Thomas Hardy pp 121-145 | Cite as

Eidetic Images

  • Tom Paulin


Besides dark outlines and silhouettes there is another way in which Hardy embodies memory in his work. Many poems contain images which the memory appears to project onto the bare, external world, like colour slides on a screen. These images assume a virtually autonomous existence outside the poet or his persona, and are quasi-visionary or ‘eidetic’⋆ images. ‘After a Romantic Day’ describes how these visions are formed:

The railway bore him through An earthen cutting out from a city: There was no scope for view, Though the frail light shed by a slim young moon Fell like a friendly tune. Fell like a liquid ditty, And the blank lack of any charm Of landscape did no harm. The bald steep cutting, rigid, rough, And moon-lit, was enough For poetry of place: its weathered face Formed a convenient sheet whereon The visions of his mind were drawn.


National Gallery Full Translation Autonomous Existence Time Touch Subjective Existence 
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© Tom Paulin 1986

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  • Tom Paulin

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