Thomas Hardy-The Haunter

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The Haunter Imaginatively, and most pathetically, Hardy writes this plaintive and moving poem from the point of view of Emma. It is written in the first person, with her as the imaginary narrator. It is almost as if, in putting these words in the mouth of Emma (who, in the poem, sees Hardy as oblivious of her presence) Hardy is trying to reassure himself that she forgives him and continues to love him. Detailed commentary Though Hardy does not know it, Emma's phantom follows him in his meanderings, hearing, but unable to respond to, the remarks he addresses to her in his grief. When Emma was able to answer Hardy did not address her so frankly; when she expressed a wish to accompany him Hardy would become reluctant to go anywhere - but now he does wish she were with him. She is, but he does not know this, even though he speaks as if to Emma's “faithful phantom”. Hardy's deep love of nature appears in his choice of the places where he walks, the haunts of those given to reverie (daydreaming or contemplation): where the hares leave their footprints, or the nocturnal haunts of rooks. He also visits “old aisles” - are these literally the aisles of churches or natural pathways in woods and copses? In all these places Emma's ghost keeps as close as “his shade can do”. “Shade” is ambiguous: it is used here to mean “shadow” (Emma is as close as his own shadow to Hardy) but the term more usually means “ghost” - which is evidently very appropriate here. Again, Emma notes that she cannot speak to Hardy, however hard she may strive to do so. Emma implores the reader to inform Hardy of what she is doing, with the almost desperate imperative: “O tell him!” She attends to his merest sigh, doing “all that love can do” in the hope that “his path” may be worth the attention she lavishes on it, and in the hope that she may bring peace to Hardy's life. The lyrical trochaic metre
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