Neutral Tones – Thomas Hardy

Neutral tones is a lyrical retrospective poem. Lyrical meaning to explore the emotional state of the Speaker and is a poem that can be sung. Retrospective means to look back, remember, and is usually the memories of the poet. The Speaker remembers the day his love for his mistress finally died and how this influenced the rest of his affairs or relationships. The poem consists of four stanzas with four lines each, giving a total of 16 lines. The rhyme scheme stays consistent throughout the poem. The rhyme scheme is abba. In Afrikaans this is known as ‘omarmende rym’ but there is no known term for this in English. The poet makes use of similes or analogy throughout the whole poem.

This poem is about the dying of the love between the Speaker and his mistress. The Speaker remembers the day that his mistress left him and how cold and indifferent she was towards him. They exchanged words, arguments and insults but they never reached anything. “The smile on your mouth was the deadest thing” shows that she did not feel anything for him and that there is no way of saving their love. This smile was alive enough just to die in front of him.

The tone of Neutral Tones is sad and depressing. This is emphasized by the neutral colors that the poet uses. This also links up with the heading of the poem. The neutral colors being grey, white and brown. These colors symbolize the deadness of the love between the speaker and his mistress, but goes on symbolizing the deadness in his live. The speaker’s live stays dull and he has made no progress.

The imagery and figures of speech is what gives this poem a unique meaning. Throughout the whole poem, the poet makes use of depressing and bleak nature scenes that emphasize the dead love between the speaker and his mistress. In stanza one the place and circumstances is given of the day the love between the speaker and his mistress came to an end. The winter day represents the coldness of the mistress...