Thomas Hardy’s Poetry by Graham Fawcett

‘Do go; these are very special occasions.’ Bridport Review

Phone 01308 459511 to book now.

Thomas Hardy’s Poetry

Talk by Graham Fawcett

Thursday 12 May 2016 at 6.30pm.

Tickets £10, with supper afterwards £25

Thomas_Hardy_by_Walter_William_Ouless 2

Thomas Hardy (detail) by Walter William Ouless National Portrait Gallery

Thomas Hardy considered himself primarily a poet who wrote his novels to make a living. When, after fourteen novels and three books of short stories, Hardy’s masterpieces Jude the Obscureand Tess of the d’Urbervilles met with a storm of Victorian moral and critical outrage, he dramatically re-invented himself at the age of 55 as the poet he had always been in his own mind.

The death of his first wife Emma and his complicated feelings of guilt, regret and loss provoked much of his finest poetry acknowledged now as some of the loveliest in the English language. The wonderful Beeny Cliff and the Moments of Vision poems recall  Emma as he first met her at Boscastle in  North Cornwall. The poems and the place are celebrated in Vanessa Gardiner’s current exhibition at Sladers Yard.

Hardy the poet was an outstanding technician of every aspect of poetic music from the placing of a syllable to the architecture of a stanza. He also carried on into his poetry his novelist-self’s unflinching expeditions into the world’s darkness, demonstrating in verse too a healing power in constructive and steadfast pessimism on a par with the catharsis we take away from an evening at the Greek tragic theatre, calling his poems ‘explorations of reality’.

There is to this day real comfort and endless pleasure to be had from the visionary and romantic qualities of so much of Hardy’s poetry, his sustained marriage of treasured poetic traditions with thrilling experiment, the narrative vividness of his Wessex settings wild and rustic, and the eurhythmic wonders composed by his unerring ear.

Hardy’s rise to fame and riches from a simple rural childhood is a great story in itself, especially as so much of his life took place right here in West Dorset. His love and detailed understanding of the natural world never left him and features brilliantly in all his writing. Graham Fawcett will read some of the best poems, throwing light on them by profiling Hardy’s personality and life story in the context of his time in Hardy Night on Thursday 12th May at 630pm.

Just call 01308 459511 to book.

GRAHAM FAWCETT has lectured or led workshops at literary festivals throughout Britain on reading and writing poetry. Entertaining lecturer, writer and educator Graham Fawcett has been a tutor for The Poetry School since 1997, devising and teaching new courses on poetry past and present from around the world. He wrote and presented radio programmes about literature and music on BBC Radio 3 for many years.

Graham Fawcett’s talks explore leading poets, their lives and work. The programme is two 45 minute halves with an interval followed by an informal and delicious buffet dinner served by Sladers Yard’s celebrated Licensed Café. The £15 buys a full main course from a choice of seafood, free-range meat or vegetarian dishes. A wonderful selection of wines, desserts and cheese are available à la carte.

The Darkling Thrush
I leant upon a coppice gate
      When Frost was spectre-grey,
And Winter’s dregs made desolate
      The weakening eye of day.
The tangled bine-stems scored the sky
      Like strings of broken lyres,
And all mankind that haunted nigh
      Had sought their household fires.
The land’s sharp features seemed to be
      The Century’s corpse outleant,
His crypt the cloudy canopy,
      The wind his death-lament.
The ancient pulse of germ and birth
      Was shrunken hard and dry,
And every spirit upon earth
      Seemed fervourless as I.
At once a voice arose among
      The bleak twigs overhead
In a full-hearted evensong
      Of joy illimited;
An aged thrush, frail, gaunt, and small,
      In blast-beruffled plume,
Had chosen thus to fling his soul
      Upon the growing gloom.
So little cause for carolings
      Of such ecstatic sound
Was written on terrestrial things
      Afar or nigh around,
That I could think there trembled through
      His happy good-night air
Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew
      And I was unaware.

About Sladers Yard

Sladers Yard is an art gallery and cafe in West Bay, Dorset. Our art gallery showcases contemporary British Art, Furniture and Craft whilst the licensed cafe serves fresh, locally produced homecooked food and drinks.
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