Hi! I'm currently revising for my english lit exam, which is covering poetry anthology love and relationships comparisons. I was hoping if someone could have a look at my essay and give me any sort of feedback, as this is my first time writing an essay for a poetry anthology. Here it is below:
General Comparison of “When We two Parted” and “Neutral Tones”
“When we two parted” and “Neutral Tones” both use themes of death and memory to reflect on the loss of a relationship and the despair experienced due to it.
Hardy sets the scene in neutral tones and introduces the themes of memory and reflection as the speaker describes how ‘we stood by a pond that winter day’ - the use of the personal pronoun ‘we’ conveys how the speaker sees them as a couple, possibly hinting that his partner was to blame for the end of their relationship. Contrastingly, in when we two parted, Byron gives a more emotional approach, stating that the speaker and his partner ‘parted in silence and tears’; this displays internalised feelings and that their parting was intense and ended with ‘silence’, meaning that loss of communication was involved in their break-up.
Both Hardy and Byron use death imagery to convey the death of a relationship. Hardy uses an oxymoron to describe how the speaker’s partner’s smile ‘was the deadest thing’ - a smile should express happiness, whereas in this context, it forebodes the falling out of their relationship. This can communicate the small hints of withdrawal from their commitment to each other. Similarly, Byron uses metaphorical and sensory language to embody the repulsion the speaker feels at even the sound of his ex-lover, as it's a ‘knell in mine ear’. A knell connotes to a ringing of a funeral, depicting how his ex-lover is dead to him, emphasising the theme of death within the poem.
Both poems end with a reference to the beginning, using a cyclical structure. This demonstrates how each speakers’ depression and melancholy is ongoing and repetitive - as they are trapped between their longing for the relationship and the reality presented to them. Byron is more explicit in the expression of his grief, using an ABAB fixed rhyme scheme indicating the endlessness of his mourning, however, Hardy uses a closed ABBA rhyme scheme to suppress his sense of loss and going nowhere.
When we two parted and Neutral Tones explore death and romantic loss from a pessimistic and gloomy perspective, with Neutral Tones communicating the dejection faced from a relationship through the use of natural imagery and pathetic fallacy, while When we two parted uses explicit language to provoke emotion from the reader.