Which Of Thomas Hardy's Poems Sums Up His Philosophy?


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Will Martin answered
The clearest statement of Hardy's view of life is probably "He Never Expected Much" published in 1928, the year of his death. Its subtitle is "A consideration on my eighty-sixth birthday." The poem opens "Well, world, you have kept faith with me" and its tone throughout is calm and gently rueful. In it Hardy sums up his final view of a world that, in his eyes, never promised very much in the first place. He recalls a childhood vision of the world warning him not to love it too much because it would not give him much: "Just neutral-tinted haps and such." He wryly reflects that this is exactly what he ended up with; and that he never expected life to be fair. In his novels, characters struggle hopelessly against a mysterious power that seems to prevent human happiness fro no reason; in this very late poem, Hardy advises simply giving up the struggle.

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