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THE POEM
When the Present has latched its postern behind my tremulous stay,
And the May month flaps its glad green leaves like wings,
Delicate-filmed as new-spun silk, will the neighbours say,
"He was a man who used to notice such things"?
If it be in the dusk when, like an eyelid's soundless blink,
The dewfall-hawk comes crossing the shades to alight
Upon the wind-warped upland thorn, a gazer may think,
"To him this must have been a familiar sight."
If I pass during some nocturnal blackness, mothy and warm,
When the hedgehog travels furtively over the lawn,
One may say, "He strove that such innocent creatures should
come to no harm,
But he could do little for them; and now he is gone."
If, when hearing that I have been stilled at last, they stand
at the door,
Watching the full-starred heavens that winter sees,
Will this thought rise on those who will meet my face no more,
"He was one who had an eye for such mysteries"?
And will any say when my bell of quittance is heard in the gloom,
And a crossing breeze cuts a pause in its outrollings,
Till they rise again, as they were a new bell's boom,
"He hears it not now, but used to notice such things"?…read more

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SUMMARY OF THE POEM
· There can be many different interpretations of this poem.
· One interpretation that it is about his death, this could be shown by the line- `I have been
stilled at last'. He is concerned about what people may say about him after he has gone an
example of what he thinks may be said about him could be ­'He was a man who used to
notice such things'.
· Another interpretation is that Hardy is writing about his life after the death of his first wife,
including his new marriage. Hardy remarried only two years after his first wife died, and some
people may have said that this could have been too short a time between- this is shown by `On
those who will meet my face no more', which could suggest that people no longer respect him,
due to remarrying too early. In the last stanza, there is reference to bells, which could signify
marriage. The first bell could be his marriage to his first wife- `bell of quittance'- the bell was of
quitting because his wife died and therefore quit their relationship. The second bell could be
his marriage to his second wife- `new bell's boom'- a new relationship and possibly a new
start.…read more

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RHYME SCHEME-
· The rhyme scheme of the poem is ABAB, which is consistent throughout the rest of the
poem, which contrasts to the change that has occurred in his life, to the continuity of the
rhyme scheme.
· TONE-
· There is a reasonably positive tone throughout the poem, in comparison to the rest of
Hardy's poems. However, there is negative imagery scattered throughout the poem,
including references to death. Some of the negative imagery that Hardy uses, included
comparisons to nature- `nocturnal blackness'. Reference to death- `winter'- is seen as
being cold- like a dead body? Some positive imagery includes- `glad green leaves'-
suggests freshness and a new life beginning- could be his new life with his second wife,
or his new life in the afterlife.…read more

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RHETORICAL QUESTIONS-
· There are several rhetorical questions towards the end of the stanzas which could signify
that Hardy is doubting himself and his own frame of mind. ­ `He was one who had an eye
for such mysteries?'
· REFERENCE TO WHAT OTHER PEOPLE SAY-
· Hardy appears to show a lot of concern for what other people have to say, and what
opinions people have of him. This could be because he wanted to leave a good
impression of himself on Earth after he died- wanted to be acknowledged in a positive
way- `He hears it not now but used to notice such things'
· Hardy does not specifically refer to how it is that he is concerned about having an opinion of
him. This is shown through the use of `they'. They is an ambiguous term and could also mean
that whoever `they' are, are not of great significance to him.…read more

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LITERARY TECHNIQUES USED
· `flaps its glad green leaves like wings'- this is an unexpected simile which is embellished by
alliteration.- it symbolises a new life/ new beginnings
· `like an eyelid's soundless blink'- this simile conveys a sense of silence and suddenness on
arrival.…read more

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