English Literature AS - Thomas Hardy - Beeny Cliff

An analysis of Beeny Cliff by Thomas Hardy 

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Beeny Cliff
Key points
Beeny Cliff is the name of a cliff overlooking the British Channel.
Representation of a relationship as Hardy used to visit Cornwall with his
wife Emma.
The poem follows the narrator as he attempts to bring back/look back at the
memories he shared with `that woman'.
At the end of the poem we discover that `The woman now iselsewhere',
clearly, the narrator has lost this person.
Form
The poem switches from first person singular and plural. The pronouns `we' and `us' illustrate the
narrators wanting to be with his now dead wife, yet in the first and fourth stanza sandwich the
memories, and act as a indicator of reality because of the use of `I' and the separation of `she and I'.
At the end of the poem in stanza five, the narrator effectively attempts to distance himself from his
wife by again calling her `the woman'. The absence of a person pronoun depicts the narrator's loss, as
his wife and he are no longer `we' and `us' but `her' and `I'.
Structure
Rhyme:
Regular rhythm reinforced by the rhyme `sea' `free' `me' expresses the exertion of control which
may be suggestive of the denial (about his wife's death) the narrator is trying to repress.
Five stanzas, three lines:
The odd number is a physical depiction of a sense of incompleteness in the narrator's life which is
evidently reinforced by the content of the poem. But the fact that each stanza has the same number of
lines suggests the same love the speaker felt for `the woman' at the start of their relationship is the
same after she is gone.
Language
Stanza one:
`Opal' is suggestive of the light that `the
woman' brought to the speakers life, this is
reinforced by the verb `wandering' which brings
to life their relationship. The past tense `loved'
changes the tone of the stanza a sense of denial
comes through because the poet is attempting to
reconstruct the memories he had with the
woman that he loved. The rhyming triplets also
emphasise this notion because they also mirror
the poets yearning for control over life and the

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Beeny Cliff
loss of life which he is merely able to fully exert through a poem.
Stanza two:
`Plained' is a heterograph (the use of different letters or groups of letters to represent the same sound
or sounds) the word `planed' means to glide which fits in with the surface of the poem, looking deeper,
'plained' actually means to mourn/lament which could potentially express Hardy's hidden emotions
towards his wife's death.…read more

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