Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Apocalyptic Poetry: Yeats and Hardy

Its interesting to compare the poetry of both Yeats and Hardy during the period before and during World War I. Both poets use the Biblical reference to the return of Christ and the end of the world in their poems, but the manner in which they do so is quite different.
In Yeat's "The Second Coming" he evokes a supernatural element to the idea of the second coming (as Sarah mentioned in her earlier post). This works on the reader to emphasis that the events leading up to this war are something that can't hardly be fathomed, and bare a strong tone of horror.
In comparison, Hardy also makes strong use of the apocalyptic imagery. he describes the noise of gunfire and compares this to "Judgement Day." However, his poem has a much more realistic tone than Yeat's - focused on the details and common events that actually took place. However, this realism evokes a similar tone of horror and dread simply in the fact that the situations are actually happening.
I think the religious allusions in both of these poems work to emphasis the disillusionment of religion felt by the witnesses of the war. As a question of agency, this shows their hopelessness towards human nature after the war, and they feel as if they can't stop the coming horrors from occuring...


  1. I think it is really interesting to compare the use of religion as you have done, but I question your reading of straight reading of disillusionment in both poems. In Hardy, I agree that the men are disillusioned: "Instead of preaching forty years...I wish I had stuck to pipes and beer," but I think Yeats' poem is different; if the war is being compared to the birth of Christ, then I think Yeats could be accusing God of fathering the war. In Hardy's poem, it seems as though he is using religion to condemn the actions of man rather than accusing God of causing the war.

  2. I didn't read as much religion into Hardy the first time, but I definitely see it going back and looking. I like the subtle connections he makes between God and the unnatural attitudes of the weather/ocean etc., and how he uses the ominous setting to make the God/hopeful imagery pop out more in contrast. Essentially it seems like he's using an artists trick like painting red and green side by side so that each appear to pop out more.