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The poems are ‘Neutral Tones’ by Thomas Hardy and ‘One Flesh’ by Elizabeth Jennings Essay

This essay is about two poems on the same theme, love but they both have been written in a different period of time, one poem is post twentieth century and the other one is pre twentieth century. The poems are ‘Neutral Tones’ by Thomas Hardy and ‘One Flesh’ by Elizabeth Jennings.

The poet who wrote ‘Neutral Tones’ Thomas Hardy also has written many famous novels and as a poet chooses his words very carefully.

In this poem, ‘Neutral Tones’, Hardy talks about the theme of love in a bad negative way. This poem has four stanzas and of four lines each. As in all poems the title acts as a signpost into the poem, this title suggests that the theme of the poem, love has no colour, no meaning, dull, one sided, bland and wishy-washy. This poem shows us the down sides of love being heart broken and it also shows the fragility of love and that love doesn’t last forever.

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The first line of the first stanza is significant, ‘We stood by a pond that winter day’, the deliberate use of the word ‘winter’ sets the scene in the way it tells us the time in the year and the mood, cold, chilly, dead. This first stanza uses alliteration in the sibilant ‘s’, ‘starving sod’ which also are hard words.

The second stanza suggests that there were arguments in the relationship ‘your eyes on me were eyes that rove’ and ‘words played between us to and fro’. It also suggests that the relationship had lost its flair, ‘over tedious riddles’. This stanza also tells us that she can’t stand him any longer and that their love has failed, ‘on which lost the more by our love’.

The third stanza begins by showing us a false smile; ‘the smile on your mouth was the deadest thing’ which shows the person is putting on a front, hiding his true feelings. The sarcastic comment shows the amount of hate in the relationship, ‘and a grin of bitterness swept thereby’. The only simile in this poem is, ‘ like an ominous bird a-wing’, this simile is a sign of unpleasant happenings, negatives, evil situations.

The fourth stanza includes alliteration, ‘ wings with wrong’. The last two lines referrer to a relationship the poet had when he separated from a loved one he thinks back to the key elements, faces, sun, leaves, ponds, trees.

To conclude this poem I felt that is poem was true and did show the unpleasant side to love. I like it because the choice of words and expressions and is a good poem to look at for ideas.

Elizabeth Jennings refers back to her parents’ marriage how they had fire and passion when they were younger and now their relationship is dull, lifeless now and they don’t want to remember the past.

‘One Flesh’ is a post-twentieth poem. It has three stanzas. The tittle again acts as a signpost that tells us that the couple in question is not one anymore, both lead separate lives.

The first stanza again gives us a clue that the relationship is failing from the words apart and separate in the first line, ‘ Lying apart now, each in a separate bed’. In the second line shows the husband using an excuse to stop them communicating at night, ‘He with a book, keeping the light on late’. The lines, ‘He with a book, keeping the light on late, All men elsewhere – it is as if they wait’, is a rhyming couplet.

‘ All men elsewhere – it is as if they wait’. Implies she is thinking, dreaming of her perfect man just like a lovesick teenager.

The second stanza shows the use of juxtaposition, ‘ tossed up like flotsam from a former passion, how cool they lie. They hardly ever touch, Or if they do it is like a confession’. ‘ How cool they lie’ shows that the lack of romance, depth and that each word has one syllable and also onomatopoeia. ‘ Of having little feeling – or too much’, refers back to when the couple had fire, passion and now there is no flicker of romance. ‘Chastity faces them, a destination’, remains the old coupe of the wonderful past they had.

The third and final stanza includes a metaphor and a simile, ‘ Silence between them like a thread to hold And not wind in. And time itself’s a feather’. Also the use of juxtapositioning is used here, ‘ Do they know they’re old. These two who are father and mother. Whose fire, from which I came, has now grown cold?

I enjoyed both these poems because it was interesting to see the different use of language in a different period of time. As nowadays the use of correct punctuation and the shortening of words is becoming more and more popular but in the time of when these two poems where standard English and expression was used. These poems also show the negative side of love and that it don’t last forever.

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