Hardy - Drummer Hodge analysis

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Drummer Hodge
Written in 1899 a few weeks after the beginning of the second Boer war in South Africa. The
poem is a memorial to a young soldier (drummer) from Dorset buried in a foreign country
and environment.
Key themes:
Contrast between drummer Hodge's humble Wessex roots and the rugged planes of
South Africa. Repeated reference to `unfamiliar stars'.
The interpretation that as a result of his death there, the drummer has become part
of the landscape.
An understanding that the poem is not talking about the futility of war but
immortalising an innocent boy and telling his story.
The opinion that a poem is a better way to commemorate a life than becoming a war
hero ­ something that never happened to Hodge.
Language analysis:
Stanza 1
`They throw in Drummer Hodge to rest - Hodge is tossed carelessly into a
Uncoffined - just as found' makeshift grave (`throw') by his
fellow soldiers. This suggests they
have, even in death, no respect for
him (he is put in the ground
- Enjammed lines reflect the rush of
the burial
- The `f-n-d' sound of `uncoffined' is
repeated in found.
- The name Hodge was a derogatory
term for a country boy (innocent,
vulnerable, un-equipped for war) ­
Hardy refers to him as this to
honour his background and use the
term as complimentary rather than
- Hodge also represents the nobodies
of the war ­ the boys that were
forgotten easily and were not war
- `Just as found' suggests he was
found dead, died a lonely death
- These primary lines convey the
mood of the whole poem. They

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His landmark is a kopje crest - This suggests that his grave is
That breaks the veldt around' unmarked. However, Hardy makes
this poem a monument to Hodge.
- `kopje' is Afrikaans for small
isolated hill, it is further separated
from anything else by the `veldt'
around it ­ a vast elevated expanse
of grassland.
- The use of Afrikaans vocabulary
highlights just how bizarre and
foreign South Africa was to
Drummer Hodge.…read more

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His only monument is a small hill in the middle of a vast expanse emphasising
Hodge's loneliness and isolation.
Stanza 2
`Young Hodge the drummer never knew - Hodge was probably younger than
Fresh from his Wessex home 17. It is suggested that he was
The meaning of the broad Karoo' inexperienced and naïve when he
was seduced by the promise of
being a war hero.…read more

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Conveys the permanence of
Hodge's death.
`And strange-eyed constellations reign - Hodge will never leave his burial
His stars eternally.' ground and forever be surrounded
by the unfamiliar.
- OR they provide some comfort in
that nature will bring some peace
General points:
- Highlights the solitude of Hodge.
- Show's how through death he has become part of the landscape.
An `ABAB' rhyme scheme is the same that is used in traditional English hymns ­
Short lines represent the short life Hodge experienced.…read more


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