In the eight years between the publication of his last volume of poetry and this, Hardy had been busy writing The Dynasts, which appeared in three parts (1904, 1906, and 1908). Time’s Laughingstocks was published in December 1909, the title, initially used for the first poem, coming from Tennyson’s The Princess (iv. 496). Most of the 94 poems were written during the period when Hardy’s major preoccupation was The Dynasts, but twelve are early, dating from 1866 to 1871. Twenty-nine of the later poems had been previously published, from 1901 to 1909. There is a noticeable increase in lyrical verse, but several of the more outstanding poems are narrative. Hardy described this collection as ‘a miscellany’. It contains some light-hearted poems, but the general tone is sombre. So unmistakable are the notes of personal unhappiness in some of the poems, it seems strange that Edmund Gosse did not suspect the reality behind them. Of the volume as a whole he wrote on 7 December 1909: ‘how poignantly sad! What makes you take such a hopelessly gloomy view of existence?’
KeywordsMutual Heart Lyrical Verse London Road Roman Road Hill Fort
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