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By Phillip Mallett (eds.)
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Additional info for Thomas Hardy: Texts and Contexts
But day continued its lustrous roll In upper air; And did my late irradiate soul Live on somewhere? A question only: no certainty, no future life as yet unbroached, but rather the moods and moments of the past laterally continuing in another zone ‘my late irradiate soul’. The joy felt, though now lost, may yet still be. It is a poem that illuminates the note with which I began, on relativity. Radio-activity was known about from 1906 on and again we see Hardy finding in these new understandings of the universe ways of posing further questions – questions he cannot and will not answer but which irradiate his feelings, from time to time.
How to make the past again as present, as future, is the matter and the technical enquiry of his fiction and his poetry. In his Journal on 27 January 1897 he wrote: 18 Hardy: the After-Life and the Life Before 19 Today has length, breadth, thickness, colour, smell, voice. 2 Hardy’s training as an architect shows through that list, with its recognition not only of the five senses but of volume (length, breadth, thickness) as essential to the present moment, distinguishing it from the past of recollection.
Did her gifts and compassions enray and enarch her sweet ways With an aureate nimb? Or did life-light decline from her years, And mischances control Her full day-star . . The image is deliberately unspecific, glancing at sun-beams, rainbow and halo. ‘Life-light’ is the telling inclusive term which assimilates ‘laughter’, ‘compassions’, happiness, love – vitality itself. It is because Hardy’s recurring light metaphors have this breadth of reference that he is able to vary their emphasis from episode to episode, and, to an extent, from novel to novel.