“Ah, Who’s Digging On My Grave” By Thomas Hardy

640 words | 3 page(s)

The poem is remarkably sad as it deals with death and how people are perceived after passing. The poem is about ways that death uncovers true attitude of people towards a particular person that is no more in our world. Death and how people are remembered is the underlying theme of the poem. The subject is a woman, who lies in the grave and feels that someone is digging on the surface. She is the sole narrator. It is possible to say that death itself is also a primary subject. The poem is a narrative one since a particular story is told.

The overall tone is dominated by negative emotions. The poem starts out more positively. The first stanza is filled with affection and faith in the power of love that transcends death. The first stanza is dominated by confusion. This is the point when the woman truly starts experiencing disappointment over the fact that she is not remembered with love and that people consider paying attention to her not necessary anymore. She turns to accusing in the third stanza. She laments the fact that even a former enemy does not consider her worthy of attention. She is negatively amazed, because she realizes it is the dog, who is digging. Then comes the next most hopeful part of the poem. The woman believes that at least the pet has devotion and love left for her even after her passing. She recognizes something positive from her earthly life, a glimpse of something familiar. A bitter disappointment dominates the finale of the poem when she understands that the dog digs not because of missing the gone mistress, but to bury a bone. Here the author employs powerful irony, convincing initially the reader in the faith of the dog only to disappoint later that the dog could care less for the deceased owner.

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There are two types of imagery present in the poem: visual (flowers, dog, gate, rue, bone) and auditory (the sound of the dog digging the earth). The poem is generously spruced with figures of speech. Death is personified: “the Gate that shuts on all flesh or late.” There is also a metonymy: dead-grave, dog-digging. There is also a recurring question that signals the beginning of each new stanza serving as a refrain. There is constant repetition to emphasize the position of the woman six feet under – “digging/dig/dug.” There is no clearly defined meter, but it does not affect the poem in a negative way. The rhyme is done according to the ABCCCB scheme: “grave, rue, wed, bred, said, true.” The form is closed. Each stanza is a sestet. The couplets are not closed. Even though one could fall into the trap of saying that the poem is written in blank verse, still – not very well rhymed iambic pentameter seems to be the case here.

The poem is very cynical and hopeless in terms of its message. The author is clearly convinced that deceased people occupy a far lesser place in the hearts of people than is usually believed. Even the pets are not subject to devotion once the master is physically permanently gone and is not there to feed and remind of one’s existence. The author points out that the woman believed people close to her to be more loving and caring, but in reality hardly anyone mourns her. This approach – ones dead then immediately forgotten – is perfectly in accordance with the Victorian way of pessimistic thinking. There is no solution in the dramatic conflict of the woman with the rest of the world, and this is the most disturbing part of the entire poem. She is not able to influence the perception of other people regarding her persona. She is powerless to do anything and remains a silent observer alone with her thoughts.

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