How does Hardy tell the story in Under the Waterfall?
In his poem Under the Waterfall, Hardy gives his wife Emma a voice, we assume he is writing with her as narrator and with the prior knowledge that their relationship is deteriorating the reader may already know that this is a retrospective, romantic yet sad look at the question of eternal love. Hardy uses a woman as a narrator in order to get a feminine perspective of the event of that day as well as a view on their broken down relationship; feelings of sadness and regret are conveyed using this technique since a sorrowful tone emanates from “no lip has touched it since his and mine” a play on words, not necessarily regarding the glass anymore but a metaphor for their marriage.
Moreover, Hardy uses lots of personification and metaphorical language in order to convey similarities between the waterfall and the question of the elusive eternal true love. “With a hollow and boiling voice it speaks and has spoken since hills were turfless peaks” is an example of Hardy’s belief that like the waterfall, true love “never ceases” even “in wars, in peaces”. Hardy also often uses alliteration and fairly medieval language like “runlet’s rim” and “little abyss” in order to give a sense of magic and mystery to the recount of the story. The use of these techniques in addition with the use of colour “of blue with a leaf-wove awning of green” allows the reader to paint a hazy, romantic picture of the memory.
Hardy writes “there lies intact the chalice of ours” suggesting that true, lasting love is like the Holy Grail (“chalice”) hard to find but precious. He also uses the extended metaphor of the glass falling in the water to represent the deteriorating nature of the partnership. The glass could be seen as still “intact” but even after having fallen into the waterfall just like Hardy and Emma’s love, still intact but now “slipped and sank and was past recall”
The use of caesura in line 38 punctuates the end of the...