Satires of Circumstance
The poems for this volume were collected and arranged in July 1914, just before the outbreak of the First World War. It was published the following November. One war poem, ‘Men Who March Away’, was included as a last-minute ‘postscript’ to the 106 poems which form the present collection; later it was transferred to ‘Poems of War and Patriotism’ in Moments of Vision. The group of fifteen minor poems which provided the title* appeared in the ‘Lyrics and Reveries’ section. Hardy knew that the issues they raised were light and trivial compared with the reality around him when they were published, but he seems to have realized too late how incongruous and superficial they would appear in the same volume as ‘Poems of 1912–13’. The unforeseen death of his first wife in November 1912 had removed the hardened resentments which had divided them for years. He could overlook what he had endured, and recognize with regret the neglect and lack of tenderness from which Emma had suffered. He was moved by the record of her early life which ended with their Cornish romance, † and the pilgrimage which he made in expiation to Cornwall recalled the radiance of the past vividly and at times intolerably. His emotions and imagination were stirred as never before, and the result was ‘Poems of 1912–13’ (and many more subsequently), the ‘only amends’ he could make. ‡ They comprise the most genuine love-elegy in the English language.
KeywordsRailway Carriage Late Lyric Translation Remembrance Henry VIII Canterbury Tale
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