Analysis of Thomas Hardy's In Time of 'The Breaking of Nations' : Glorious Triumph of Love and Life


The title word In Time of 'The Breaking of Nations' significantly echoes God’s words that He will break the nations and bring destruction (The Bible, Jeremiah LI 20). Ironically enough the optimist Thomas Hardy is here boldly contesting God’s words. He voices the glorious triumph of love and life over the onslaught of war and destruction.


War brings about variegated changes in the social, political and economic life of a nation. But even in the midst of these changes the basic preoccupations of life go on unchanged and undisturbed. The snap shots of the daily life are here given in the three stanzas of the poem. Read More Poetry

In the first picture we find a farmer engaged in his usual work in the field. He is harrowing clods slowly and silently with the help of his old horse. They are tired and so they are half asleep. Read More Poetry The sight is not a welcome aspect of the society. Here none the young one present on work but gone to war; the old infirm are engaged in industrious jobs. Despite of old and infirm life continues in its flow:
“Only a man harrowing clods
In a slow silent walk
With an old horse that stumbles and nods
Half asleep as they stalk.”

The burning of couch grass in the second stanza suggests the continuity of human labour. It is not disrupted even by the rise and fall of kings, rulers and ruling dynasts:

“Only thin smoke without flame
From the heaps of couch-grass;
Yet this will go onward the same
Though Dynasties pass.”




Last but not the least, the picture of the two young lovers whispering words of love to each other suggests eternal flow of love. War’s annals will fade, but the story of love and lovers never sink into oblivion. Read More Poetry The force of love sustains life even in the midst of the terror of war:
“Yonder a maid and her wight
Come whispering by:
War's annals will cloud into night
Ere their story die.”

In Time of 'The Breaking of Nations'
has a simplicity of diction and rhythmic in sounds. Read More Poetry The ballad form of abab end-rhyme scheme creates a folk lore tradition in this poem. Again, here Hardy has recorded the eternal truths of life not with romantic exuberance, but with classical restrain.


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