The sudden loss of a loved one can reveal that a seemingly intimate, idyllic relationship can in fact be complex, distant and lifeless. Thomas Hardy attempts to portray this idea in his works “The Going” and “Your Last Drive”. In “The Going” Hardy illustrates that a feeling of wistful, nostalgic regret results from concentrating on the negative aspects of lost relationships. In “Your Last Drive” however he indicates that although there may be no afterlife, the dead live on in our memories and through imaginative recreation. Hardy manages to depict these concepts through his intricate control of language.
Sudden, unexpected loss can leave one grief stricken, isolated and melancholic. A sense of frustration and blame is created by Hardy in the first stanza of “The Going”. Hardy questions his lost loved one asking “why did you give no hint” that she was about to pass away. Angry that she didn’t alert him to her imminent death, Hardy harshly blames her using the adverb “why”. His loved one is said to have been “indifferent quite”. She ignored his feelings, possibly unconcerned about, and uncaring towards him, as depicted by the adjective “indifferent”. This feeling Hardy might have returned.
Hardy uses euphemisms such as “where I could not follow” as he doesn’t wish to accept his loved one’s passing. He attempts to escape reality and isolate himself from the real world; obviously hurt deeply by her death. In the second stanza Hardy begins to grieve and lament. Hardy says how she “never… bid goodbye”. He is sorry that she didn’t say farewell to him. This portrays Hardy differently; not angry and blaming but rather sorrowful and regretful. Hardy is said to have been “unknowing” of her passing and how it “altered all”. The alliteration of “altered all” draws attention to huge impact of the death on Hardy.
A feeling of torment is created in the third stanza as Hardy” states that she made him “think that for a breath it is you I see”. Hardy momentarily believes he sees his wife; his eyes are seeing what he wants, to be able to view his wife again. The alliteration of “darkening dankness” portrays Hardy’s state of mind: bleak, sombre and gloomy. However in the end Hardy only sees “yawning blankness” which “sickens” him, illustrating his intense yearn for another moment with her. The comfort and support of a loving relationship can be easily lost due to negligence.
A feeling of wistful, nostalgic regret results from concentrating on the negative aspects of lost relationships. Returning back to the early years of their relationship, Hardy attempts to remember the positives of their marriage in the fourth stanza. He describes how his wife (“the swan-necked one”) would “muse and eye” him. The verb “muse” shows that Hardy was captivated by her youth and beauty. In the fifth stanza, in contrast to the previous, Hardy turns to the negatives in their marriage, wondering why they didn’t revive the original joys. Hardy asks “why…did we not speak”, illustrating their neglect. Hardy wonders why they didn’t remember “those days long dead”.
The adjective “dead” suggests that the initial happiness of the start of the relationship didn’t continue. However, it could also portray how the marriage was almost lifeless and empty due to their disregard and mistreatment. Hardy regrets that he and his wife didn’t “seek to strive that time’s renewal”. This shows that they didn’t attempt to revive their initial feelings or rekindle their romance. Emotionally struggling in the last stanza, Hardy can’t get over his grief.
He states how “all’s past amend”, illustrating his inability to repair his relationship with his wife due to her passing. “I seem but a dead man” Hardy says: ready to “sink down soon”. This shows that Hardy is waiting for the end, for death to take him and rid him of his pain and bereavement. The punctuation (ellipsis and hyphen) and fragmented syntax in the last stanza breaks down the poem’s rhythm. It also helps to portray Hardy’s factored thoughts and inability to order his emotions. In the last line of the poem Hardy states that he didn’t expect that his wife’s passing “would undo me so”.
Hardy didn’t think that her death would distress him as immensely as they had grown apart. The tragedy of loss can leave one pondering over their past actions; lifeless, depressed and confused. We sometimes use our imaginations as a means of escaping the grief and suffering of tragic loss. In “Your Last Drive” Hardy creates a bleak, reminiscent mood throughout the poem. Hardy establishes a setting “by the moorway” portraying a sense of desolation and isolation. The adjective “undiscerned” is used to describe the deceased, showing that she wasn’t to know that she would be “in a week the face of the dead”.
This illustrates that one will never pinpoint the exact date they will pass away. Hardy contrasts the “face of the dead” with “that haloed view”, between death and heaven, foreshadowing her imminent death. Like in “The Going” Hardy uses euphemisms instead of describing her graveyard. The “resting-place” is said to have been “alien from you [the deceased]”. The adjective “alien” emphasises the deceased’s ignorance of her impending death. In the third stanza Hardy describes how he was unable to “read the writing upon your face”. Hardy wishes to illustrate that you can’t foresee a person’s passing, oblivious until they have gone.
Hardy in the fourth stanza portrays the lack of communication between the living and the dead. Hardy uses the speech of the deceased to bring back the lost person’s voice, creating intimacy and complexity. The loved one says how “I shall not know” emphasising the ignorance of the dead. In the last stanza Hardy agrees with the “dear ghost” stating that “never you’ll know”. This inversion emphasises that “never” will the dead be alert to the livings problems. The last line of the poem is full of juxtaposition with Hardy saying “you are past love, praise, indifference, blame”.
This emphasises the tension and conflict in complex relationships. Hardy is unsure of how to remember his wife now that she has passed away; whether to remember the positives or negatives of their marriage. At the sudden conclusion of an intimate, complex relationship, confusion and reminiscence reign. Hardy attempts to show the complexity and tension in relationships that once seemed intimate and idyllic. In “The Going” and “Your Last Drive” Hardy tries to portray the effects loss has on the one left behind. He shows that one is left frustrated, grieving and lifeless after the loss of those closest to them.