Hardy Among the Poets

  • Michael Alexander


Prose was his trade, poetry his art, and yet, after fifty years, critics are still showing us along the beaten track to the monuments of trade. Our attention is drawn to major novels such as Jude the Obscure and to influences on Hardy’s thought, while the bulk of his poetry remains unread and its worth unestimated. Poets have neglected him less, and the New Oxford Books of English and of Twentieth Century English Verse give him greatly enlarged room.1 Yet while his name is held in affectionate respect, it does not raise the critical wind that has blown those of Yeats and Eliot into modern esteem. Notwithstanding his late floruit as a poet (Poems of 1912–13 is contemporary with Yeats’s Responsibilities and Pound’s Lustra) Hardy remains one of the Old rather than the Modern Masters.


Symbolic Extension English Poetry Country Life Beaten Track Dramatic Situation 
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  1. 3.
    Confucius to Cummings, ed. Ezra Pound and Marcella Spann (New York, 1964), pp. 325–8.Google Scholar
  2. For Hardy’s importance to Pound, see Donald Davie’s third chapter in Pound (London, 1975), and John Peck, ‘Pound and Hardy’, Agenda, x, 2–3, which also has Davie’s fine piece, ‘Hardy’s Virgilian Purples’.Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    Literary Essays of Ezra Pound, ed. T. S. Eliot (London, 1954), ‘A Retrospect’ (1918), p. 9.Google Scholar
  4. 6.
    Thomas Hardy’s Notebooks, ed. Evelyn Hardy (London, 1955), p. 74.Google Scholar
  5. 7.
    A Pair of Blue Eyes, Wessex Edition (London, 1916), ch. XXII, p. 253.Google Scholar

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© Michael Alexander 1977

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  • Michael Alexander

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