Essay, Pages 4 (790 words)
We climb the road”, with this contrast in tense highlighting the contrast in feeling in “The Voice”, and the distinction of the memory being so clear in Hardy’s mind in “At Castle Boterel”, whilst also presenting the idea that the past and present are irreconcilable in their difference. This is reaffirmed through other examples, such as the repetition of ideas from one tense in a separate verse and tense, like “But cannot answer the words he lifts me” of the present and “When I could answer he did not say them” of the past, taken from the alternative perspective of a female lover, assumedly his wife, in “The Haunter”.
This depth of memory, or lack of it gives Hardy’s personal accounts a more relevant, current and permanent nature, whilst the pure distinction in tense of “The Convergence of the Twain” gives it an isolated, less impacting feel- this notion of apathy and irrelevance towards the grandeur of the public disaster contrasting greatly with the deep contemplation and almost cursed confessions found in Hardy’s self-portraying poetry.
In terms of narrative perspective, “The Convergence of the Twain” is written in a way that implies that the narrator is bordering on the omniscient and the impersonal.
This is accentuated by the almost anecdotal quality that the poem takes on in stanza VI, the “Well:” exemplifies this change in tone to a recollection of events, and it is the linguistic devices and the way that they are employed against each other that portray the context of the story, rather than any personal views of the narrator.
An example of this is “And as the smart ship grew/In stature, grace and hue/In shadowy silent distance grew the Iceberg too”- this line lacks in narrative perspective on events, but effectively portrays the motives and ideas behind it, the idea that the two beings were destined to meet.
This use of meaning through pure language over any sort of poetic or narrative perspective contrasts with Hardy’s consistent usage of personal pronouns for effect in his confessional lyrics. This can be exemplified by “The Voice”, “Woman much missed, how you call to me, call to me” and “Neutral Tones”, “The smile on your mouth was the deadest thing”- these ideas are antithetical in content, but the use of personal pronoun heightens the accentuates the effect.
This contributes with the personally driven and affectionate tone of the line from “The Voice”, and equally the maliciously pertinent tone of “Neutral Tones”, something that Hardy achieves in “The Convergence of the Twain” without this personal perspective, either through a lack of identification with the events, or through his own belief that he can best portray his ideas without the use of direct address. Finally, the imagery and language of “The Convergence of the Twain” allow Hardy to fully explore and portray the grander premises that he feels are relevant to the isolated event, and how the event, in his eyes, should be viewed.
Throughout the first five stanzas of the poem, Hardy uses images of antithesis to portray the starkness of contrast between the elitist desires embodied in the Titanic’s building, and the fateful, inauspicious end that befell it. Hardy describes the supposedly unsinkable “steel chambers” as “late the pyres/Of her salamandrine fires”, suggesting that they came from a source of death, juxtaposing the “Pride of Life” in the Titanic with its almost mythological, fiery “salamandrine end”.
This opposition is furthered with the idea of “Cold currents thrid, and turn to rhythmic, tidal lyres”, as if the lyrical omnipotence of nature has encompassed man’s hubristic and arrogant “Pride of Life”- this comparison through capitalisation of this “Pride” with the “Immanent Will” and “Spinner of the Years” elevates man’s ambitions to that of the Gods- a God-given privilege that is ironically punished by the Gods themselves.
This comparison of elitist desire with parity of insignificance in death and desolation continues through “Jewels in joy designed/To ravish the sensuous mind/Lie lightless, all their sparkles bleared and black and blind”, the almost sexually desirable “ravishing” gems reduced to cold, dark shadow, emphasised by the harsh, monosyllabic sounds of “black” and “blind”.
The insignificance of the ship in its “solitude of the sea” is exemplified in the next stanza, with even the common fish commenting on the “vaingloriousness”, Hardy using a neologism to show that man’s desire for greatness, and its subsequent inherent capacity to fail is reduced to mere trivia for one of the most common, stupid creatures of the world. This use of antithesis, juxtaposition and contrast to highlight contrast in positivity and negativity, particularly in varied tense, is commonly employed by Hardy in his private poems, as well as its vehement usage in the opening part of “The Convergence of the Twain”.