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Strange Eyed Constellations,
This review is from: The Collected Poems of Thomas Hardy (Wordsworth Poetry Library) (Paperback)
Famously, Hardy gave up writing novels after the poor reception given to "Jude the Obscure". He concentrated instead on poetry, presumably muttering "Right!This'll show 'em!", or something similar, through his gritted teeth.
In my opinion, while admitting that, generally speaking, no one ever puts up a statue to a critic, posterity has something to thank the reviewers of "Jude" for. Instead of having yet more of Hardy's static and uninvolving prose describing the moral and physical problems of the rural Wessex townships, kind of a superior "Archers" without the silly voices, we have more of his excellent and varied poetry.
Some of the poems, particularly the war poems like "Drummer Hodge", have justly remained well known, others, such as "At Casterbridge Fair" may not be so familiar, but are equally fine. My own favourite is "Wessex Heights" a wry, sad piece that somehow manages not to be at all depressing.
Taken as a whole, the most striking thing about the poetry here is, perhaps, its modernity. The author's world weary, stoical recognition of the passage of time echoes loudly in our post-religious Twenty First Century.
Hardy's grasp of a dizzying number of poetic forms is impressive.He is (for some reason) regarded as being in the forefront of English novelists, these complete poetic works show he has, most unusually, the range and depth to be considered in the first rank of English poets too.