In The Voice, explore how the poet’s words create a feeling of great loss.
“In spite of the differences between us, my life is intensely sad without her.”
The great loss and grief of bereavement is conveyed through Thomas Hardy’s words in The Voice. He imparts his melancholy and despair over the unfortunate death of his wife through the use of imagery, repetition, and various literary devices.
Hardy’s use of repetition constantly reminds us of the extent of his heartache and desolation. In the beginning of the poem, he writes: “Woman much missed, how you call to me, call to me”. His repetition of ‘call to me’ (which is reiterated further on in the poem) brings out how melancholic and heart-wrenching bereavement is. It creates a sense of emptiness, as if he’s calling out in vain to a vast abyss. It clearly depicts his longing and how much he wishes she were still there, and how he’s trying to reach out to her. On the other hand, the roles can be reversed- he can feel his wife calling out to him- creating a surreal, ghostly effect. It’s as if she’s always there, pulling at his emotions, and there is no respite, reflecting the depth of his pain and how her death left him bereft. All of this plays on the reader’s emotions, and we deeply feel his great loss.
Through the structure of his four paragraphs, we can see the cyclical nature of bereavement- and how his pain seems never-ending and as a result, vast and immense. In the four stanzas, his tone changes from melancholic to hopeful and excited, then doubtful, and back to lachrymose again. The four stanzas are like the four seasons in a year- they repeat over and over again, and always will be so regardless of anything. It reflects his unceasing grief and creates a feeling of great sorrow and misery.
The last paragraph, Hardy uses a plethora of devices to accentuate his suffering. He uses alliteration in ‘Thus I; faltering forward’- the ‘f’ sound is a hard sound, as if he’s stuttering. This stresses that he is stumbling over himself- he doesn’t know what to do or where to go- he’s just moving on with no direction. The use of the semicolon in that line makes it seem broken; he is so affected by his loss that he cannot convey his ideas coherently. This halting diction reflects the ‘faltering’ mood of the poet- he has been broken and cannot continue to live. This is reinforced by the incomplete sentence structure- it is not grammatically complete and consists of no finite verb; only a string of minor clauses. It’s as if he’s too deeply enveloped in his misery to form a complete sentence, and he is simply throwing out phrases pertaining to his situation.
Last but not least, Hardy uses imagery- ‘leaves around me falling’- a metaphor that is representative of his life. He still feels as if his wife is alive, and hasn’t been able to forget her death. Falling leaves denotes the autumn season, which is when leaves die and decay. He has little to look forward to (after autumn is winter), and is just mechanically going through the motions. The ‘thorns’ reinforce that the leaves are gone. The entire passage portrays him as sluggish, lost, wounded and utterly exhausted. This shows how big a toll the death of his wife has taken on his emotions, and conveys a feeling of great loss.
The grief that arises from bereavement is depicted throughout The Voice. The various literary devices and sentence/stanza structure convey how hard it is to get out of the cycle of melancholy, reiterating the feeling of great loss.