In Time of ‘TheBreaking of Nations’ By Thomas Hardy
Only a man harrowing clods In a slow silent walkWith an old horse that stumbles and nods Half asleep as they stalk. Only thin smoke without flame From the heaps of couch-grass; Yet this will go onward the same Though Dynasties pass. Yonder a maid and her wight Come whispering by: Wars annals will cloud into night Ere their story die.
Notes- The Poem was written by Thomas Hardy, it is dated 1915.- General attitude of the poem is optimistic, and the idea behind the poem is thatthe norms of life carry on despite wars.- The title ‘The Breaking of Nations’ is from the Old Testament, Jeremiah 51:20‘Thou art my battle axe and weapons of war: for with thee will I break in piecesthe nations, and with thee will I destroy kingdoms...’- Can be linked with Birdsong, the fact that both the ideas are that nature andlife will go on despite war.
Important: although written Use of the horse ‘stumbles’ before world war 1, can symbolise the burdens could been seen that the men carried as they have links with the marched men marching through the mud, half asleep Only a man harrowing clods old used to showMen had to march through? In a slow silent walk stability, many young men in war died With an old horse that stumbles and nods link with Dulce et Decorum est ‘men Change in rhythm canemphasise the heaviness of the walk Half asleep as they stalk. marched asleep’
Thin smoke can be linked with the gunfire Overall view of this in the war stanza could be thatthe British view on the First World War was Couch-grass is a that war was to Only thin smoke without flame weed, weeds are overcome evil. seen as a bad thing. From the heaps of couch-grass; use of Jeremiah 51:20 in title, can mean thisstanza is like parable of the sower? Yet this will go onward the same Though Dynasties pass. The use of Dynasties and ‘Only a man’ in the First Stanza, can show the contrast between the two.
holds the idea that love Whispering creates a sense ofstories will outlast stories of peacefulness. war Yonder a maid and her wight Come whispering by: use of ‘their’ can show the many simple people, who Wars annals will cloud into night love and work. Can mean the man at beginning, and the maid now. With Ere their story die. them life carries on, through love and peacefulness.
Structure-The structure is consistent and neat, can representthe consistency of the ways of life.- Rhythm is like a folk song, which is the song ofpeople.
GlossaryDynasties - The Ruling Family. e.g Windsor Family (Royal Family)Annals - Chronicles/StoriesYonder - Over ThereWight - A Living BeingEre - BeforeClods - MudHarrow - an agricultural implement