At An Inn By Thomas Hardy 1840 1928

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At An Inn By Thomas Hardy 1840 -1928

At An Inn By Thomas Hardy 1840 -1928

At An Inn What do we understand from the title of the poem?

At An Inn What do we understand from the title of the poem?

When we as strangers sought Their catering care, Veiled smiles bespoke their thought Of

When we as strangers sought Their catering care, Veiled smiles bespoke their thought Of what we were. They warmed as they opined Us more than friends-That we had all resigned For love’s dear ends. And that swift sympathy With living love Which quicks the world--maybe The spheres above, Made them our ministers, Moved them to say, “Ah, God, that bliss like theirs Would flush our day!” And we were left alone As Love’s own pair; Yet never the love-light shone Between us there! But that which chilled the breath Of afternoon, And palsied unto death The pane-fly’s tune. The kiss their zeal foretold, And now deemed come, Came not: within his hold Love lingered numb. Why cast he on our port A bloom not ours? Why shaped us for his sport In after-hours? As we seemed we were not That day afar, And now we seem not what We aching are. O severing sea and land, O laws of men, Ere death, once let us stand As we stood then!

AO 3: Context

AO 3: Context

1840 -1928 Novelist and poet Thomas Hardy was a Victorian realist, influenced by the

1840 -1928 Novelist and poet Thomas Hardy was a Victorian realist, influenced by the Romantics and highly critical of what he considered to be a declining society. He was particularly focused on rural society and his novels explore tragic characters struggling against their social circumstances and passions. Hardy was born in Dorset. His father was a stonemason; his mother was well-read and educated him until he went to school from the ages of 8 -16. He could not afford a university education so trained as an architect. He moved to London but felt socially inferior and acutely aware of class divisions. He became interested in social reform, including the plight of women in an unequal society. He was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature. His first wife’s death affected him greatly and, although he remarried, he wrote poetry to cope with her death. When Hardy died he stated he wished to be buried with his first wife however the executor of his will insisted he be buried at Poet’s Corner. A compromise was reached – his heart was buried with his wife; his ashes in Westminster Abbey.

‘At An Inn’ describes (or is inspired by) an unfulfilled relationship with a married

‘At An Inn’ describes (or is inspired by) an unfulfilled relationship with a married woman, the spirited, aristocratic Florence Henniker whom Hardy met in 1893. Hardy yearned for the unattainable with women and though the Hon. Florence Henniker was game for a busy friendship with the well-known author, she was certainly unattainable. When Hardy learned that she was staying at the family’s seaside house in Southsea, he proposed in August 1893 that they meet in Winchester so that he could show her the cathedral, to which she agreed. He left Dorchester, and his own wife, by train and met Mrs Henniker at Eastleigh station, where they caught a train to Winchester. In a compartment together, between the two stations, Hardy told her that he had more than the cathedral on his mind and Mrs Henniker told him that surveying the cathedral would be quite sufficient. It’s to their credit that the friendship survived this proposition. The pair did stay in Winchester that night, at the George Hotel, and Hardy took some pleasure from the staff thinking that the couple were in fact married. Florence Henniker

AO 2: Language and Imagery

AO 2: Language and Imagery

What does the first person plural suggest about the voice of the poem? When

What does the first person plural suggest about the voice of the poem? When we as strangers sought Sibilance = playful Their catering care, tone/fluidity of events Veiled smiles bespoke their thought Of what we were. They warmed as they opined Us more than friends-That we had all resigned The dash suggests For love’s dear ends. that, despite the What is the poet saying here? assumptions of the people at the inn, there is a distance between the speaker and the woman. What type of language is used in this stanza? What tone does it create?

The alliteration creates a sense of movement and life- ‘living love’ makes the world

The alliteration creates a sense of movement and life- ‘living love’ makes the world go round. The fast pace suggests excitement. Even the people in the inn are ‘moved’. And that swift sympathy With living love Which quicks the world-- maybe The spheres above, Made them our ministers, Moved them to say, “Ah, God, that bliss like theirs Would flush our day!” Another dash and the word ‘maybe’ suggest uncertainty/life is not so simple as the idea put forward. What is the poet saying here? The reference to the ‘spheres’ suggests that what is happening is fate. How does the use of religious language reinforce this idea that their ‘love’ is meant to be? How do the dash and use of ‘maybe’ temper this idea?

Love is personified. And we were left alone As Love’s own pair; Yet never

Love is personified. And we were left alone As Love’s own pair; Yet never the love-light shone Between us there! But that which chilled the breath Of afternoon, And palsied unto death The pane-fly’s tune. What is the poet saying here? What is the ‘that’ which changes the atmosphere? This admission that they are not in love signals a transition. The atmosphere now becomes cold, static and negative. Which words suggest these qualities?

Love personified, lingers ‘numb’. Why is this an appropriate description? The kiss their zeal

Love personified, lingers ‘numb’. Why is this an appropriate description? The kiss their zeal foretold, And now deemed come, Came not: within his hold Love lingered numb. Why cast he on our port A bloom not ours? Why shaped us for his sport In after-hours? If not theirs, whose ‘bloom’ is it? How does this tie in with the idea of movement or growth? Caesura: echoes the idea that love has stopped. It will not develop. Assonance: suggests regret or longing. The speaker suggests that this encounter is not his fault- it is Love’s ‘sport’. This ties to the idea of fate introduced earlier.

A temporal shift: there is a distance between then (‘afar’) and ‘now. Cries of

A temporal shift: there is a distance between then (‘afar’) and ‘now. Cries of regret. As we seemed we were not That day afar, And now we seem not what We aching are. O severing sea and land, O laws of men, Ere death, once let us stand As we stood then! Are they now separated by distance as well as time? Or by morality (‘laws of men’)? Note that this is an imperative punctuated to be an exclamation. How does this add to the sense of regret felt by the speaker? What is the poet saying here? g, in th e m o What does ‘aching’ represent? Is it the speaker’s sense of regret or a s t e r g e r s e o eaker d p s e th If reflection of his advanced age? is it? what

AO 2: Form / Structure

AO 2: Form / Structure

When we as strangers sought Their catering care, Veiled smiles bespoke their thought Of

When we as strangers sought Their catering care, Veiled smiles bespoke their thought Of what we were. They warmed as they opined Us more than friends-That we had all resigned For love’s dear ends. And that swift sympathy With living love Which quicks the world--maybe The spheres above, Made them our ministers, Moved them to say, “Ah, God, that bliss like theirs Would flush our day!” And we were left alone As Love’s own pair; Yet never the love-light shone Between us there! But that which chilled the breath Of afternoon, And palsied unto death The pane-fly’s tune. The kiss their zeal foretold, And now deemed come, Came not: within his hold Love lingered numb. Why cast he on our port A bloom not ours? Why shaped us for his sport In after-hours? As we seemed we were not That day afar, And now we seem not what We aching are. O severing sea and land, O laws of men, Ere death, once let us stand As we stood then! Can you identify the rhyme scheme?

A B C D When we as strangers sought Their catering care, Veiled smiles

A B C D When we as strangers sought Their catering care, Veiled smiles bespoke their thought Of what we were. They warmed as they opined Us more than friends-That we had all resigned For love’s dear ends. A B C D And that swift sympathy With living love Which quicks the world--maybe The spheres above, Made them our ministers, Moved them to say, “Ah, God, that bliss like theirs Would flush our day!” The regular rhyme scheme gives the poem a sense of completion, contrasting with the language that suggests the relationship never met its potential.

AO 4/5: Links and Interpretations

AO 4/5: Links and Interpretations

Hardy uses the first person plural throughout the poem – speaking for both himself

Hardy uses the first person plural throughout the poem – speaking for both himself and the woman. How can we link this to other poems we have read? How does it link to attitudes towards love? “Hardy does not deny the woman in his poem a voice, but he does assume that he knows her feelings and that he can speak for her. In doing so, he objectifies her as much as any of the earlier male poets. ” Do you agree?

Examine the view that Thomas Hardy presents the speaker in this poem as having

Examine the view that Thomas Hardy presents the speaker in this poem as having an unrealistic attitude to love. Think about: • The characteristics of love • The representation of the people involved • The feelings of the speaker • Any imagery or language used • The way the structure and form reflects this Make sure you cover all the AOs in your answer.

Fill in your CLIFS sheet for this poem. Remember, this will be a revision

Fill in your CLIFS sheet for this poem. Remember, this will be a revision aid!