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:


Neutral Tones

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.

Thomas Hardy


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