Hap, Thomas Hardy – an Analysis


What kind of a word is hap?!

Gut Reaction
Huh. Might relate a little, might not…

What does it all mean?
If but some vengeful god would call to me
From up the sky, and laugh: “Thou suffering thing,
Know that thy sorrow is my ecstasy,
That thy love’s loss is my hate’s profiting!”

This. This stanza sums up my entire belief system. That if there is one almighty up there he is less benevolent grandfather with sneaky chocolate biscuit and more Jeremy Beadle-Ashton Kutcher lovechild. Vindictive. Cruel. Only created us for its twisted entertainment. Worded a whole lot better by Stephen Fry … I digress…

Then would I bear it, clench myself, and die,
Steeled by the sense of ire unmerited;
If it were revealed that this were indeed the case, then I could accept it and just die. Strengthened by knowing that my feeling of being mocked and used and just generally being peed off with life was not for no reason after all. It wasn’t all in my head. But I am not here for anyone’s entertainment, even it if is an almighty god, thank you very much!

Half-eased in that a Powerfuller than I
Had willed and meted me the tears I shed.

I would be at least half-relieved that something, some Thing more powerful and potent than myself had been the cause of all my misery. Because they had wished me sorrow for their amusement. It would make my life feel pointless for a reason beyond my control. And somehow that is a comfort.

But not so. How arrives it joy lies slain,
Wait, what? I’m not a victim of a giant universal prank?

But not so. How arrives it joy lies slain,
Um. How do we get to where everything that makes us happy lays in tatters? How do we get to that point? I don’t know…

And why unblooms the best hope ever sown?
We’ve made plans, we’ve hoped for things, and they’ve looked like they’re flourishing and then… unbloom. Fallen into tatters and all that. Why does that happen, hmm? We can’t surely all be so self-destructive that we ruin every good thing we have in our lives?

—Crass Casualty obstructs the sun and rain,
…am I insulting myself here? Saying I am unintelligent … and a victim? I AM a victim of this heavenly Punkd show, am I not?! And if I can block out all the weather, if I can make my own rainy days, well. It just proves that no good can come of me.
Or? It feels very much like what we have here is an author saying that whilst everything feels like it’s going wrong and out of our hands, ultimately it is us that chooses the path we take and the consequences, whether we like them or not, are down to us, not some external force.

And dicing Time for gladness casts a moan. . . .
Wasting the time that’s been given to us? Not able to have happy thoughts? Only able to complain about everything? Dicing suggest meticulous cutting (or it does if you have a sharp enough knife and quick enough fingers

These purblind Doomsters had as readily strown
Blisses about my pilgrimage as pain.
So… I am a martyr to my own pain? I must make pilgrimage to my god and be glad in my suffering? I…object!!!

Form – the vaguely technical stuff
Division and order
Three stanzas, the first two are quatrain and the final is a sestet.

I can’t quite make out the tone. Is it mocking? Self-mocking? Accepting that everything that happens to us is our own doing?

Suggested rhyme scheme

Similes and metaphors
Powerfuller as god (excuse me while I wince at the awful comparative bastardisation there), Crass Casualty as weeping and wailing humans who are always moaning yet never trying to fix things? Similar for Doomsters – nay sayers?

Author’s relationship with their subject
It’s not exactly benevolent, is it? It’s not comforting by the end anyway – at first it feels like the author is trying to relate to it’s subject – no, it feels like the author is attempting to show it is relating to its reader, enticing it in with familial comforting, and then… nope, you’re wrong, you’re the reason your life is a mess, don’t blame anyone or anything but yourself. Well… thanks for that….

Other points of view (ideas from other sources)
There is debate out there in internetland as to the religious undertone/overtone of stanza three – is the author saying that there is light and dark from our god, or is he saying there is no god at all? I suppose your own views on faith and so on could shape your opinion as such on that.

Religion seems to be the main point of contention for this poem, since some other analyses out there suggest the entire poem is about questioning whether there is a god or not, whether religion is ‘valid’ or not.

With my own lack of faith in religion, I feel drawn to neither side really, because yes, it would be wonderful to know there was an external reason for our unhappiness and woes, but on the other hand, by saying something else has caused you to have bad things in your life means you believe there is ‘something’ else out there, and that makes it difficult, doesn’t it? Because that acknowledges something I don’t believe in. Very tricky

Signing off
I don’t know. If you believe that all your problems are because of an external source then is that not taking responsibility for your own life? It’s much easier thinking things are someone else’s fault. But is that fair? Or responsible? No, of course it isn’t, however… life. Life is bloody hard work isn’t it? Doesn’t it sometimes feel like everything is turning against you no matter what you do or try or believe. Are you supposed to take comfort in there being a god that may or may not be vindictive? Or take solace in knowing there isn’t one?

This is a very difficult subject, isn’t it? What’s the answer? I have no idea at all, I was just drawn to the idea of there being a god that has put us on this earth for its own amusement and that’s why things are the way they are. Because sometimes I really, really believe that is what’s happening. And then I feel irresponsible and that I should look after myself better, which sounds incredibly hard.

Perhaps today is not the day for too many introspective thoughts, hmm?



Poetry Foundation

When I read this I think of the song… in an attempt to end this on a more positive note, how about a little Monty Python?


One thought on “Hap, Thomas Hardy – an Analysis

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