The Composite Muse

  • Joan Grundy


The Muse who addresses Hardy in the Vatican embodies more arts than those we have been considering. ‘But my love goes further’, says the poet, mentioning by name ‘Form’, ‘Story’, and ‘Hymn’. The place of Story in Hardy’s work is self-evident. His affinity, even in his novels, with the ballad-writers has often been remarked: his tale-telling, however refined by art, follows the ‘instinctive primitive narrative shape’ of that of old wives and minstrels, and he accepts the role of entertainer as both a duty and a delight. ‘Hymn’ also, taken in the sense of lyric or poetry, is not so. much a part of his work as its sine qua non. This is apparent, not from the poems alone, but also from what Jean Brooks has called ‘the poetic structure’ of the novels.1 Hardy was first and last a poet, and if in his work the Muses are, as the goddess of the Vatican says, one, this is ultimately because the other arts have there been converted into poetry: hers is the final shape of which these are the ‘phases’.


Grand Feat Strenuous Effort Magic Lantern Gothic Architecture Synaesthetic Experience 
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    Kenneth Marsden, The Poems of Thomas Hardy, A Critical Introduction (London, 1969) 117.Google Scholar
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    Marcel Proust, Time Regained trans. Andreas Mayor, paperback edition (London, 1970) 256–7.Google Scholar

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© Joan Grundy 1979

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joan Grundy

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