Selected Poems by Thomas Hardy

 This Dover edition was first published in 1995 and reissued in 2015 under the editorship of Bob Blaisdell. It contains 69 of the 900 plus poems which Thomas Hardy published. Although known for his largely nineteenth century novels, his writing spanned the centuries and all but one of his volume of poems was published after 1900. He always claimed to prefer writing poetry and said that he gave up writing novels after the reception given to Jude the Obscure.

As a place to start when reading Thomas Hardy's poems, this edition seems to be accessible. It offers a range of his poems from different collections: Wessex Poems and Other Verses (1898), Poems of the Past and the Present (1901), Time's Laughingstocks and Other Verses (1909), Satires of Circumstance (1914) Moments of Vision and Miscellaneous Verses (1917). There is also a single poem, The Calf (1911). 

I always like to dip into a collection of poems as I have done with this edition. I had an e copy of the poems and I did feel that in this case, I would have preferred a print copy as I would have found it easier to navigate through. This is personal preference, I know. Familiar Hardy themes appear in his verse. Loss features heavily, especially in the selection of those he wrote after the death of his first wife, Emma Hardy. These are found from p 49 starting with Exeunt Omnes which he wrote in 1913. His love of Nature is found in his poetry and I particularly enjoyed the detail in Overlooking the River Stour, with the repetition of the comings and goings of the birds and the wildlife down by the river. 

Death and War feature in this volume, from the Boer War and the First World War.  Most poignant to me is The Souls of the Slain, where the dead of the war return home, to find that their glorious deeds are not widely revered by the nation but that only their insignificant boyhood deeds are remembered by their families. 

Highlight: The Darkling Thrush, written at the turn of the century which ended on a note of hope through the fragile song of the bird.

So little cause for carollings
    Of such ecstatic sound
Was written on terrestrial things
    Afar or nigh around,
That I could think there trembled through
    His happy good-night air
Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew
    And I was unaware.

I decided to read the poetry of Thomas Hardy as part of the Classics Club Challenge. My full list of books can be found here. 

Thanks to Dover Publications who sent me a copy of the book via NetGalley for an honest review.


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