A Look at Neutral Tones by Thmoas Hardy

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Thomas Hardy’s poem Neutral Tones is a narrative consisting of four stanzas. The poem revolves around a past lover as the narrator reminisces about moments which lead to the end of their relationship. The first three stanzas allow a glimpse into prior experience of love and the fourth stanza reflects upon his view of the incident after many years have passed. The poem itself is pessimistic and although the narrator attempts to offer a calm tone and neutral view of the past, the poem is ultimately centered on portraying love as agonizing. The title itself lends a hand into how Hardy thought the poem ought to be read; Neutral Tones, should be read just as the title states, the emotions and events presented are not to be in clear support of any opposing side. Furthermore, the tone used in the narrators voice, as well as the colours presented should also remain indifferent. However, as much as Hardy attempts to present a neutral telling of the story through images and colour, as well as through the tone of the narrator, he is ultimately doomed when explaining love in a neutral tone. His emotions and true feelings can eventually be discovered due to the expression revealed in certain words. At the start of the poem Hardly tries to depict an unemotional scene, the narrator refers to the pond where their conversation takes place, “We stood by a pond that winter day,” (Hardy 1). The image of a winter day greatly contrasts that of a summer day, considering the appearance and movement around the pond, the summer day would bring a bright and vibrant image to the mind of the reader, while the winter day would be seen as quiet and undisrupted. The use of images and symbols present a calm setting, the colours used are all neutral, the white sun, the grey leaves falling from an ash tree, these colours and symbols taken at face value remain neutral and apathetic, however one can
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