Background

Much of Hardy’s poetry is connected with his wife Emma’s death. He blossomed as a poet following her sudden demise which left him filled with remorse. Gloom and despondence are predominant in Hardy’s poetry. This poem shows a happy family but at the end of each stanza, there is the reminder of death. The family that is depicted was Emma’s.

Metaphorical inference

During Wind and Rain is about the destruction and change caused by time. Each stanza shows a happy family at various seasons of the year but in the sixth and seventh lines of each stanza is a grim reminder that the passing of time brings about change and death. These lines pull us short just when we are lead to believe that life is endless sunshine and spring days.

Summary

The first stanza shows the happy family spending a winter evening inside a cozy room singing songs. The whole family partakes in the fun and in the candlelight, their faces glow like the moon. The pleasant scene is suddenly overtaken by the image of an autumn storm when dying leaves are ripped off trees and come tumbling down. In the next stanza, the scene shifts to a garden where the family works clearing the debris of winter. They clear the paths and build a shady seat to enjoy the coming spring days. This scene too is disturbed by the image of wild geese flying across the sky – the harbingers of cold and discomfort. The setting in next stanza is a bay. The children in the family seem to have grown. On a summer morning they have breakfast in the open while pet birds wander about. The rude reminder of time passing bringing about change is the image of a drooping rose being ripped off a wall. In the last stanza, the family seem happy at the prospect of moving house. They are packed and ready; they seem to have prospered. Suddenly we are presented with the grim sight of gravestones on which rain falls.

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Analysis

Stanza 1

In the first stanza, the family is gathered in a candlelit room. While the warm light makes their faces glow like moons, they sing in different tones while one plays an instrument. The scene is marred suddenly by the image of dying leaves of autumn being blown about in a storm. Falling leaves come at the end of a cycle of growth and symbolise decay and death.

Stanza 2

Here the growing family works in the garden tidying the paths and setting seats in the shade. Its springtime and there is much to look forward to. But marring the idyllic picture are a flock of white geese flying across the sky signifying the cold and discomfort of winter.

Stanza 3

We see the family surrounded by their pet birds near a bay, breakfasting in the open. The children have grown into adulthood by now. While enjoying this image, another one intrudes, this time of a drooping rose being pulled off a wall. The dying flower is an image of death and decrepitude.

Stanza 4

The family has prospered and are moving house. They are outside surrounded by their possessions when all of a sudden we see gravestones, carved with their names, being lashed by falling rain.
Two sixth lines are used twice in the poem. Hardy uses colloquial words in this poem.

Overall impression

Time, death, change and loss of happiness are recurring themes in Hardy’s poetry. They find resonance in this poem too. The poem is carefully crafted with a regular structure. The seven line stanzas resemble a week and the four stanzas represent months. The reader gets the feel of time passing by.