Friday, September 28, 2012

Hardy's Grave at Stinsford Church - Images

The Hardy family worshiped at Stinsford church close to 'Max Gate' and Dorchester. Hardy's heart is buried in the grounds. He is, of course, also recognised in the Poets Corner in Westminster Abbey.

Stinsford Church

Hardy's Grave

The information notice at the church

The following poem was written on his 86th birthday as a reflection on life ...

He Never Expected Much

Well, World, you have kept faith with me,
Kept faith with me;
Upon the whole you have proved to be
Much as you said you were.
Since as a child I used to lie
Upon the leaze and watch the sky,
Never, I own, expected I
That life would all be fair.

'Twas then you said, and since have said,
Times since have said,
In that mysterious voice you shed
From clouds and hills around:
"Many have loved me desperately,
Many with smooth serenity,
While some have shown contempt of me
Till they dropped underground.

"I do not promise overmuch,
Child; overmuch;
Just neutral-tinted haps and such,"
You said to minds like mine.
Wise warning for your credit's sake!
Which I for one failed not to take,
And hence could stem such strain and ache
As each year might assign.

Thomas Hardy

Life is not fair - whatever fair means. However, in my book, we have 'the means of dealing with everything that comes our way' ... that is according to my God.

A great philosophy - to expect little in life, often you get much more.

Interestingly Cecil Day Lewis asked to be buried as close as possible to Hardy and his grave is close by ...
The grave of Cecil Day Lewis at Stinsford Church, Dorset

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Hardy's Home - Max Gate - Images

'Max Gate' was the name of the house that Hardy built near Dorchester - the name taken from a toll road gate. The photos below were taken in August 2012 of the home as it now stands (a National Trust Property) - taken on a typical foreboding Hardy day of cloud and drizzle.

He started work to be an architect before turning to writing. He designed and put much thought into his house. He lived here and died here - with his first wife Emma and after she died with Florence. 'Max Gate' would be the starting point for many an escape into the local countryside. He also had a cycle and Dorchester was easily reached.

Before the images here is a poem (written after Emma died) -

The Walk

You were weak and lame
You did not walk with me
Of late to the hill-top tree
By the gated ways,
As in earlier days;
So you never came,
And I went alone, and I did not mind,
Not thinking of you as left behind.

I walked up there to-day
Just in the former way;
Surveyed around
The familiar ground
By myself again:
What difference, then?
Only that underlying sense
Of the look of a room on returning thence.

Thomas Hardy

From the drive
The rear garden
His study
Hardy had no children. He did have a great love of dogs and there is a dog cemetery in the garden. One of his most love dogs was called 'Wessex'.

He wrote a wonderful poem after Wessex died - the voice of the dog to the household ... see this link ...


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Hardy's Cottage at Higher Bockhampton

First a poem in relation to his childhood and his deep connection with nature ...

Childhood Among the Ferns

I sat one sprinkling day upon the lea,
Where tall-stemmed ferns spread out luxuriantly,
And nothing but those tall ferns sheltered me.

The rain gained strength, and damped each lopping frond,
Ran down their stalks beside me and beyond,
And shaped slow-creeping rivulets as I conned,

With pride, my spray-proofed house. And though anon
Some drops pierced its green rafters, I sat on,
Making pretence I was not rained upon.

The sun then burst, and brought forth a sweet breath
From the limp ferns as they dried underneath:
I said: 'I could live on here thus till death;'

And queried in the green rays as I sate:
'Why should I have to grow to man's estate,
And this afar-noises World perambulate?'

Thomas Hardy

The following are images of Hardy's cottage at Higher Bockhampton, Dorset the cottage where he was born (a National Trust Property). The photos were taken in August 2012 on a cloudy drizzling summer day ...

 The Approach through woodland

 From the garden

Hardy's Bedroom was the front top right window

In this room he wrote 'Far From the Madding Crowd'

A pedigree chart is displayed on his bedroom wall

Sunday, September 16, 2012

We Field-Women - Thomas Hardy

Below is the poem We Field-Women by Thomas Hardy. The original manuscript for this poem is held by Reading Uninversity.

For a detailed discussion of this poem and it's relationship to the text of Tess of the d'Uberrvilles see this link ...

We Field-Women

How it rained
When we went to Flintcomb-Ash,
And could not stand upon the hill
Trimming Swedes for the slicing-mill.
Wet washed through us – plash, plash, plash:
How it rained!

How it snowed
When we crossed from Flintcomb-Ash
To the Wheat Barn for drawing reed,
Since we could nowise chop a swede.
Flakes in each doorway casement-sash:
How it snowed!

How it shone
When we went from Flintcomb-Ash
To start at dairywork once more
In the laughing meads, with cows threescore,
And pails, songs, love – too rash:
How it shone!

Thomas Hardy

Three very simple six line stanzas with rhyming scheme abccba. Repetition of first line of each stanza with the last stanza line - a short and dominant line defining the background to the content of work in the fields - rain/snow/sun. These defining lines pervade the in-between lines - soak into the very being of that text.

Weather, environment and work defining life for those that worked in the rural conditions of the mid ninteenth century (see the above wedsite for details on how Tess was involved in the rural work of her time as defined by Hardy's novel).

If you feel so inclined and enjoy playing with words you could try choosing three different 'atmospheres' for the three stanzas and then filling in according to the rhyme template abccba, for example -
                                 how we worked ... /how we ate ... /how we slept

... this only involves creating 12 lines of text ... of course, you could extend to 4 stanzas and include extra dimensions eg winter/spring/summer/autumn - or equally reduce to two and follow back/white contrasting backgrounds.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Hardy and Egdon Heath

From ‘The Return of the Native’ …

‘Distilled by the sun, kneaded by the moon, it is renewed in a year, in a day, or in an hour. The sea changed, the fields changed, the rivers the villages and the people changed yet Egdon remained.'

Egdon Heath was Hardy's great background to the above work.

Here it is as it stands today ... these photos were taken in August on Winfrith Heath (from above Gatemore Road) in Dorset ... this area is part of Hardy's Egdon ... a few changes over the years - but still has a certain magic ...

How does climate, weather, environment effect the poet or writer?