The Shadow on the Stone by Hardy
A man stands in front of a druid stone just as a reader stares at a brooding poem of love lost and fonder days remembered. “The Shadow on the Stone” gives insight into the psyche of Hardy after his first wife’s death, yet how does someone come to such a conclusion? Through the understanding of the strategic usage of several literary and poetic devices his audience is able to discern their pertinence to the comprehension of Hardy’s message. This poem is not necessarily difficult for the average reader to grasp, its value as a work of poetic prowess is found in the power of impression. “The Shadow on the Stone” forms a relationship with the reader, despite wielding fairly simple poetic structure, by stimulating several unifying characteristics which thread many readers together such as; hardship, regret, and loss.
Hardy appears deliberate in constructing this poem in a consistent manner. The lines are all placed in the same staggered fashion in all three stanzas. This method is compelling due to the fact that he may be attempting to stress the constant variation of life through the structure of the poem. The persona of the poem certainly tastes a wide variety of emotions, yet these emotions that are inevitably going to reoccur in the natural course of lifetime. This is reiterated through the certainty readers have that the individual stanzas are diverse, and will occur in the following stanzas as if to illustrate the prevalence of life’s tribulations no matter how random they may feel. This allows the reader to relate to the vulnerable human quality of the poem, no doubt creating a more attentive reader. It is no secret that people take some amount of pleasure or interest in someone else’s suffering, Hardy takes advantage of this and turns such a negative idea into a positive device for the appeal of his poem to the reader. As a result his audience can assume that Hardy was well aware of the poetic potential that fear, uncertainty, and loathing posses in regards to attention span.
Hardy’s usage of enjambment is also intentionally simplistic throughout the body of the poem. This enjambment is effective in provoking a stream of consciousness approach to the reading of the poem. Through the implementation of this type of writing nearly all of the lines manage to paint a picture as perceived by the persona. The enjambment and caesura usage is characteristic of the frame of mind the persona is in during the poem; in the beginning stanza he is calm yet reflective resulting in little interruption of his thoughts, in the second stanza readers see a turn in state of mind and a beginning of paranoia resulting in a staggered and apprehensive line structure, and in the final stanza only two lines out of eight are run-on therefore reflecting the turbulent frame of mind that the persona is now shrouded in. As the flow of the poem deteriorates so does the piece of mind of the persona, this attaches the...