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In Time Of “The Breaking Of Nations”

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In Time Of “The Breaking Of Nations”. Thomas Hardy. A heavy fame with teeth dragged over ploughed land . . Showing the apparent insignificance . Harrowing also means distress and pain , torturing etc . . lump of soil. Maybe the person he works with is away fighting .

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only a man harrowing clods in a slow silent walk

A heavy fame with teeth dragged over ploughed land.

Showing the apparent insignificance

Harrowing also means distress and pain , torturing etc.

lump of soil

Maybe the person he works with is away fighting

Sybilance,soft and slow beginning of the poem. Shows the tiredness the man feels perhaps regarding the Franco- pursia waror with life.

Only a man harrowing clodsIn a slow silent walk

Using and old horse could imply all the young horses have gone to war, have to make use of what supplies they have

With an old horse that stumbles and nods

Half asleep as they stalk.

“Stumbles” could imply that there is weight on the shoulders of the horse and farmer

The word “stalk” makes a contradiction so therefore oxymoronic to the idea of tiredness. We imagine them as predators to the land.

Emphasises how tired they are. Stumbles is onomatopoeic.


Only thin smoke without flame

From the heaps of couch-grass;

In terms of literal meaning it could be he is burning weeds he has pulled up from the field.

Repetition of only for the second stanza could highlight his idea of apparent insignificance

The flame could be the war itself (Franco-Prussian war) and the smoke is the aftermath of a battle which he is not really affected by however its still there.


We think that the link between the Franco- Prussian war and farmers is because the French ruler was popular among the farming community

Yet this will go onwards the same

Though dynasties pass.

Succession of rulers from the same family maintaining rulers from the same family

The farming industry will stay the same even though politics and leadership changes


Yonder a maid and her Wight

Go whispering by:

Knight/lover, could imply a soldier in the war

Contrasting the war with the idea of lovers.

We thought whispering could be like propaganda, secretive and it turns the idea of lovers into something cynical.

We thought it could also mean that some things were being hidden from the civilians/ farmers during this war.


The war would take over the night like a cloud.

War’s annals will cloud into night

Ere their story die.

On the other hand it could mean love will outlive any war.

This brings a hopeful end to a cynical poem , we could also be interpreted as personal to Hardy and could represent the struggles and battles in his marriage to Emma because the time it was written was just as their marriage began to fail .


Regular rhyme scheme.

  • Quatrain.
  • There is a neat and clear structure which gives us the feeling that he has strong feelings regarding the war and a powerful argument.
  • The tone is very cynical yet hopeful at the end. It is also slow.

There are 3 poems we can relate Thomas Hardy's work with:

  • The Bight- Elizabeth Bishop
  • As The Team’s Head-Brass- Edward Thomas
  • Mushrooms – Sylvia Plath.