I Look Into My Glass
Here's a neat little poem by Thomas Hardy, both a major
novelist (Jude the Obscure, Tess of the D'Urbervilles,
etc.) and a major poet. It's known by its first line.
I look into my glass,
And view my wasting skin,
And say, "Would God it came to pass
My heart had shrunk as thin!"
For then I, undistrest
By hearts grown cold to me,
Could lonely wait my endless rest
But Time, to make me grieve,
Part steals, lets part abide;
And shakes this fragile frame at eve
With throbbings of noontide.
Let me formulate a few questions for you to answer:
- What is his "glass"? What sort of glass can you look into
and view your skin?
- What kind of thing to say is "Would God it came to pass
[that] my heart had ..."? (Compare a phrase like "Would that
the morn were come" or "Would that it were true!" etc. This
kind of verb is called a subjunctive.)
- What is the speaker wishing had happened? Can you believe
- What would it allow him to do if his wish had been true,
according to stanza 2? As we picture or imagine this
condition he wishes for, can we admire it? Would we -- would
even he -- *really* want it, do you think? If not, what
sense does it make to say he wants it?
- Stanza 3 tells us why his wish hasn't come about. Again,
logically it should be a complaint -- but is it?
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