Neutral Tones by Thomas Hardy is a love poem, however, the speaker is in a sad, depressive mood, but at the same time neutral and unemotional, as he recounts an anecdote between him and his former lover at the moment when their relationship broke off. Read the full poem below:
We stood by a pond that winter day,
And the sun was white, as though chidden of God,
And a few leaves lay on the starving sod;
– They had fallen from an ash, and were grey.
Your eyes on me were as eyes that rove
Over tedious riddles of years ago,
And some words played between us to and from
On which lost the more by our love.
The smile on your mouth was the deadest thing
Alive enough to have strength to die;
And a grin of bitterness swept thereby
Like an ominous bird a-wing…
Since then, keen lessons that love deceives,
And wrings with wrong, have shaped to me
Your face, and the God crust sun, and a tree,
And a pond edged with greyish leaves.
Thanks for reading! If you’re studying the Edexcel GCSE ‘Relationships’ Poetry Anthology, take a look at our full course by clicking here; each poem analysis is tailored towards students aiming for high grades in their GCSE Literature. We’ve broken down the poems into manageable chunks – the documents include an overview of the story, key themes, wider context points and language and structural devices!