Authors: Chih-chun Tang
The “Poems of 1912-13” are elegies that Thomas Hardy composed after the abrupt death of his long-estranged wife, Emma. The series depicts the psychological impact of Emma’s death on Hardy, suggested by both his mental images of and real visit to the landscape in Cornwall, England. The landscapes in the poems are not simply beautiful scenery; they also embody the author’s subconscious attachments to his wife and to nature. They present a distinct image of the poet and his afflicted conscience. After Emma had died, Hardy kept her memory alive by roaming about in the real and imaginary land they once had travelled. The poet-narrator thus becomes a flâneur, like Charles Baudelaire in Walter Benjamin's meditation on nineteenth-century Paris, who is an emblematic figure of modernity. Georg Lukács’s concept of “soul” is introduced to reveal the meaning of the flâneurs’ inner and outer quest. This paper highlights the roles that flâneurs play in Hardy’s poems as observers a participants, and creators of the landscape.
flâneur, Thomas Hardy, Walter Benjamin, Georg Lukács, “Poems of 1912-13”