Comment on Afterwards

By Nancy Lane,2014-01-06 13:36
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Comment on Afterwards

    Comment on Afterwards

    Afterwards was written by the English poet Thomas Hardy. It consists of 5 stanzas, each one a quatrain with an abab rhyme pattern. In this poem, Hardy is anticipating his own death and questioning how he will be remembered. He describes the beauty of nature and hopes to be remembered as a lover of nature.

    Hardy was 77 years old while writing this poem. People will begin to think about their own death at this age, so did Hardy. Though death is an awful thing, he did not fear about it, on the contrary, he was questioning how people would remember him after his death. So he wrote this poem and imagined different scenes of his death. Following, lets have a detail analysis of this


    First of all, lets analyze the title. The word Afterwards seems very simple. It is an adverb,

    describes when something happens. Here, in this poem, it means after Hardys death. Meanwhile,

    we can also see the title as a pun: Hardy wants to know how hell be remembered as a writer. Will

    people remember his words? What will happen after words? In Hardys opinion, death is not the

    end. People can still alive after death in another way. He does not fear about death, but fear to die quietly without to be noticed.

    In stanza 1, the present has latched its postern behind my tremulous stay, it personifies the

    present as a grim reaper that closes the door of Hardys life. A postern is a back door and a

    private exit which indicates that Hardy fears his death will pass quietly and unnoticed. The word postern also uses the technique of pun: posterity. It means that death separates Hardy from his relatives. The adjective tremulous emphasizes the transitory of life itself, or Hardys stay on

    earth. May month and glad green use the technique of alliteration and delicate-filmed of

    assonance. “May month is personifies as a creature flaps its leaves like wings. The dusty leaves are described as new-spun silk which also indicates the fragile of life. In the final line of each stanza, Hardy puzzles how he will be remembered.

    In stanza 2, it considers what may be said if he were to die in the dusk. He compares eyelids soundless blink with the dewfall-hawk, a simile that conveys a sense of silence and

    suddenness of arrival. It reflects his anxiety that he will be died suddenly and quietly without anyones notice, just like an eyelids soundless blink. Then Hardy wonders what a gazer may

    think of him upon the wind-warped upland thorn.

    In stanza 3, Hardy speculates on what may be said if he were to die in the summer night. The hedgehog maybe represents all the things he hasnt done when he is still alive. He imagines

    being remembered as someone who cares for such innocent creatures and tries to save them

    from harm although he could do little for them.

    In stanza 4, he imagines to die in a winter night and his neighbors watching the full-starred

    heavens and thinking of him as a man who knows such mysteries.

    In the last stanza, Hardy imagines his own funeral bells ringing. “A crossing breeze cuts a

    pause in its outrollings, the sound of the bell is cut by a breeze and causes a pause in the funeral, then a new bell boom with a louder sound. Its not the sound of funeral anymore, but the sound

    for all the lives.

    Each of these five stanzas describes an image of nature and follows the reflection of Hardys

    death in such scene. He praises the beauty of nature and hopes to be remembered as a lover of nature. We can see from the poem that the time is different in each stanza. There have May

month, dusk, nocturnal blackness, mothy and warm, full-starred winter. We can see the

    season of spring, summer and winter, and day and night. Why does Hardy describe so many different times? It is the reason that he cant assure the exact day his death. No one can guess the

    time of his own natural death.

    The whole poem is talking about the death. Whats strange is that you cant find a single

    word of death. Why does Hardy not put the word in his poem? Whats his indication of doing so?

    Maybe it is because he doesnt want the reader feels the death is the end. In his opinion, death

    doesnt mean that everything is over. On the contrary, someone still exists when he has already died. Hardy hopes that he can be remembered after his death in peoples memory. In this way he

    can alive forever. In this poem, he uses a lot of euphemisms to replace the word of death. In the

    first stanza, the present closes the postern behind his tremulous stay, that means he has died;

    in the second stanza, both of an eyelids soundless blink and dewfall-hawk are implying that

    death comes suddenly and quietly; in the third stanza, he is gone means he is died; in the fourth

    stanza, stilled means dead but sounds more peaceful; in the last stanza, the bell of quittance

    means his funeral bell. It also means he has died. All these words turn out the same meaning---death. Though we see no word of death at all, we know that Hardy is talking about

    his own death, and we can feel his intention that death is not the end.

    Afterwards is a good example of Hardys art. He uses many technologies in this poem like

    personification, metaphor, simile, alliteration, assonance, pun, etc. Sometimes, a word can have more than one usage. Hardy also uses the vivid words to describe the beautiful images. He is no wonder a great poet. His last stanza recalls me the sermon of John Donnes For Whom the Bell

    Tolls. These two poets are talking about the same thing---their own death. They are both very old and going to die, so they begin to imagine what will happen after their death and what about their funeral. In their poems, they both talk about their funeral bell and compare the meaning of these two bells, we can find something similar. Just as Donne mentions in his sermon no man is an

    island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. So the funeral bell

    is not only tolling for one man, it is ringing for every man. Because we are connected to the rest of the world, so people will remember us even after we die, through which we can still exist in the world, we can live forever.

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