“Ah, room You Digging On mine Grave?” was first published in the Saturday testimonial on September 27, 1913, then in cutting board Hardy’s 1914 collection, Satires that Circumstance: Lyrics and also Reveries with various Pieces. The poem shows Hardy’s interest in death and also events beyond everyday reality, however these subjects are presented humorously, with a solid dose the irony and satire. This therapy is rather unusual because that Hardy, who likewise produced a number of much more serious poems worrying death. In “Ah, space You Digging On my Grave?” a deceased woman carries top top a dialogue through an individual who is disturbing she grave site. The identification of this figure, the “digger” that the woman’s grave, is unknown v the very first half of the poem. As the mrs attempts come guess who the digger is, she reveals her desire to be remembered by various numbers she was acquainted with as soon as she to be alive. In a collection of ironic turns, the responses that the digger display that the woman’s acquaintances—a “loved one,” household relatives, and also a despised enemy—have all forsaken her memory. Finally, the is revealed the the digger is the woman’s dog, however the canine, too, is unconcerned v his previous mistress and also is digging just so it deserve to bury a bone. Though the poem consists of a humorous tone, the snapshot Hardy paints is bleak; the dead are almost totally eliminated from the storage of the living and do not enjoy any kind of contentment. This somber outlook is common of Hardy’s verse, which often presented a unconvinced and negative view of the person condition.

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Author Biography

Hardy to be born in 1840 and raised in the an ar of Dorsetshire, England, the basis because that the wessex countryside that would certainly later appear in his fiction and poetry. He attended a local school till he to be sixteen, as soon as his mom paid a considerable amount of money for him to be apprenticed come an architect in Dorchester. In 1862 he relocated to London, wherein he functioned as an architect, staying there for a duration of 5 years. In between 1865 and 1867 durable wrote numerous poems, nobody of which to be published. In 1867 he returned to Dorchester and, while continuing to work-related in architecture, started to write novels in his spare time. Hardy ended up being convinced that if he was to do a life writing, the would need to do so as a novelist. Drawing on the method of life he absorbed in Dorsetshire as a youth and also the wide selection of English writers through which he to be familiar, hardy spent virtually thirty years as a novelist before devoting himself to poetry. In 1874 hardy married Emma Lavinia Gifford, that would end up being the topic of numerous of his poems. Lock spent numerous years in happiness until the 1880s, as soon as marital troubles began to shiver the closeness of their union.

Hardy’s first book of city was published in 1898, once he to be fifty-eight years old and had accomplished a big degree the success as a novelist. Back his verse was not almost as successful as his novels, Hardy continued to emphasis on his poetry and published seven more books that verse prior to his death, arising his confidence and technical competence. With the ingredient of The Dynasts: A Drama the the Napoleonic wars (1904-08), an epic historical drama composed in verse, Hardy was hailed together a major poet. He was praised as a master of his craft, and his writing was admired because that its good emotional force and also technical skill. Hardy continued to write till just prior to his fatality in 1928. In spite of his great to be hidden with his family, prominent sentiment because that his burial in Poet’s edge of Westminster Abbey instigated a significant compromise: the remove of his heart, i m sorry was hidden in Dorchester, and the cremation that his body, which to be interred in the Abbey.

Poem Text

“Ah, are you digging on my grave My loved one?—planting rue?”—“No; yesterday he went to wedOne of the brightest wealth has bred.‘It cannot hurt her now,’ he said, 5 ‘That I should not be true’.”“Then who is digging on my grave? My nearest dearest kin?”—“Ah, no; they sit and think, ‘What use!What good will planting flowers produce? 10No tendance of her mound can loose Her spirit from Death’s gin’.”“But someone digs upon my grave? My enemy?—prodding sly?”—“Nay; when she heard you had passed the Gate 15That shuts on all flesh soon or late,She thought you no more worth her hate, And cares not where you lie.”“Then, who is digging on my grave? Say—since I have not guessed!” 20—“O it is I, my mistress dear,Your little dog, who still lives near,And much I hope my movements here Have not disturbed your rest?”“Ah, yes! You dig upon my grave … 25 Why flashed it not on meThat one true heart was left behind!What feeling do we ever findTo equal among human kind A dog’s fidelity!” 30“Mistress, I dug upon your grave To bury a bone, in caseI should be hungry near this spotWhen passing on my daily trot.I am sorry, but I quite forgot 35It was your resting place.”

Poem Summary

Lines 1-2

These an initial two present of the poem present a certain secret to the reader. Who is asking this question? Is it indeed a person in the grave, or is the a human imagining an experience that could happen after castle die? This an enig helps to attract the reader into the poem, despite we will certainly soon recognize that the speaker is indeed a woman that is dead and also buried. Continuous will continue to exploit an cotton voice in the poem, however, as soon as he introduce the second character in the work.

These lines likewise suggest part underlying aspects that can aid us to far better understand the situation. The referral to the “rue” being planted through the woman’s love one seems an important detail. Words rue has actually two important meanings and also both deserve to be used to the poem. First, rue method sorrow or regret, therefore the woman can be indicating the her love one is suffering these emotions. Initially, the speaker seems to feel the her fatality has led to sorrow because that the loved one and also that she remains solid in his memory. In this sense, he would certainly be “planting rue” through mourning her death. In the adhering to lines, however, we find out he is not full of sorrow, for this reason if she has this idea, that proves to it is in a mistake. Rue is likewise the name of a shrub having actually bitter, strongly scented leaves. This meaning of rue appears to hint at the true nature that the relationship in between the woman and the love one. The bitter tree contrasts through the beautiful flowers that are often placed top top graves, and also this comparison becomes stronger once we remember the flowers space a classic symbol the love and also purity. In other words, the speaker doesn’t imagine the guy offering a remembrance the beauty and affection, just one that bitterness.

Lines 3-4

In these lines, the speaker’s first question is reply by the “digger” of her grave, despite the digger’s identity is unknown in ~ this point in the poem. The anonymous speaker becomes crucial factor in the poem, urging the leader to press on and also discover that is talk to the woman. Those made clear in this first stanza is that this voice does not belong come the loved one the the woman believed she to be addressing. This is suggested by the usage of the third-person “he” to refer to the man. The voice defines that the woman’s loved one—perhaps a husband or lover—has married another woman. What’s more, he has married a an extremely wealthy mate and also appears to it is in doing rather well without the woman in the grave.

Lines 5-6

Here, the digger quotes the native of the loved one, and also the guy states that his recent marital relationship will have no result upon the deceased woman. Through this, the poet completes the first of several ironic i that proceed throughout the poem. In all of these, the woman in the grave desires to think that others space thinking the her adhering to her death. In reality, however, she has actually been mostly forgotten. Hardy provides these ironic reversals to develop a rather humorous tone, and this type of unanticipated switch is regularly used come make people laugh. In this poem, Hardy’s composing becomes a sort of “black humor” since it centers on death—a grim event that is no usually linked with merriment. This result is intensified since the feeling of the poem reveals a sad message: the dead woman is forgotten and also eternally lonely.

Lines 7-8

This stanza again begins with a sport of the refrain, “Who is digging on mine grave?” The “Then” moves the city forward together it permits the narrator to discount the lover and also move toward various other possibilities. She chooses members of she family and also imagines the they room remembering she by caring for her grave.

Lines 9-12

Again, the voice answer the woman, telling her that her family members are not the people she hears digging. Instead, lock think the it’s meaningless to tend her grave, together no quantity of treatment will raise she from the dead.

Lines 13-14

Again there is the sport of the stop “Are friend Digging On my Grave?” however this time the is not as definitive. The speak is much more hesitant, as if she doubt herself. She additionally seems to be an ext desperate to discover someone who remembers her. Since her love one and also her relatives have forsaken she memory, she imagines that the digging is being done by a mrs she disliked in her life, maybe a rival. When there to be ill feeling in between the two, it appears that the hidden woman finds some solace in the idea the her foe is still concerned enough with her existence to reason some type of injury to her grave.

Lines 15-16

The referral to pass “the Gate” is an additional term for the woman’s death. Hardy’s use of the expression seems to point to the idea of the pearly gates that theoretically note the entrance to heaven. That does not current a glorified picture of this passageway, however, together is generally the case with together an image. Instead, “the door / … shuts on all flesh,” a phrase that argues death is like a trap, not a ar where one receives heavenly rewards. This photo reinforces the one in heat 12, whereby the unknown speaker made referral to “Death’s gin”—gin an interpretation a kind of snare or trap that is provided to record animals.

Lines 17-18

Here, the unknown voice presents one of the most direct, and most chilling, explanation of the poem’s main idea: the deceased woman has been forget by the living and also does not issue them at all.

Lines 19-20

In this stanza, the woman lastly gives up her game of trying come guess that is digging on the grave and also asks a direct question of the unknown voice.

Lines 21-24

Here, the identity of the unknown speaker is revealed. This is a key turning point in the poem. Until now, the reader has been associated in the mystery of who could be speaking to the woman, and also this puzzle has been among the elements that has actually kept the reader recorded up in the arising narrative. Currently that this mystery has to be solved, the poet must discover a new way to host the reader’s interest. That does this in 2 ways. First, he supplies the unexpected and humorous twist of having actually a dog be the individual that is speaking. Second, he creates another ironic set-up in the following stanzas to once again display that the mrs has little importance in the life world.

Lines 25-30

The fifth stanza is offered over totally to the woman who talks that the dog’s loyalty. This is the woman’s longest stretch that unbroken comment in the poem, and it serves to construct up the reader’s expectations for the ironic conclusion in the final paragraph. In a sense, this final case is specifically the very same as the persons that have actually preceded it: the woman’s explanation for the digging reflects that she wants her former acquaintances to remember her and be touch by her death; the fact is the opposite—they have small concern because that her currently that she is gone. By lengthening the woman’s explanation in this paragraph, and also the dog’s succeeding reply, continuous gives much more zing to this critical incident and also brings the poem toward its conclusion.

Lines 31-34

In the final stanza, Hardy bring away the poem to its highest possible level of satire together the dog suggests that the bone is a an ext important 보다 his previous mistress. The point out of the bone also suggests the way in which those in the living people now check out the woman; she is simply a pile of bones hidden in the ground and no longer has importance to those she supplied to know.

Lines 35-36

With the final lines, hardy drives house his main point: the woman has actually been forgotten by those she as soon as knew.


The human Condition

Despite the not-so-subtle humor, thomas Hardy’s “Ah, space You Digging On my Grave?” paints a bleak photo of human nature. Human being feelings, follow to the poem, room utterly transient. Death way not only the finish of physics existence, however extinction in the mind of the living as well. The tone of the city is set immediately in the first line. In typical Hardy fashion, that is talked by a dead woman, that is awakened in she grave by the sound of who scratching at the dust above. I beg your pardon of the people she knew in life might be visiting she grave site? Is it her lover, her family, she enemy? One through one she illusions space shattered. None of them seem to treatment for she anymore. Even her dog, who is digging there, chose the spot by chance, not due to the fact that his previous mistress was hidden there.

The poem’s bitterness goes also deeper. The voice at the grave relates, through brutal honesty, exactly how the woman’s loved—and hated—ones have actually will-fully excluded her from their affections and thoughts. She loved one obtained married the day prior to to another woman, and “one that the brightest wealth,” in ~ that. Her family members refuses to tend her grave. The dead mrs has even lost the “affection” of she old foe who trust a dead woman is “no much more worth she hate.” By the moment the poem reaches this point, Hardy’s lack of belief in human being nature is complete. No ties bind. He says that everyone deserve to expect the same fate. The dog’s carefree absence of fidelity is the last blow. Any hope the woman might have had actually to live on in the memory of the living is dashed.


The rigid of “Ah, room You Digging On mine Grave?” presents a pessimistic view of person nature. Yet this approach is undercut to a large degree by other elements in the poem—structure and language—that Hardy provides as one ironic commentary on the sentimentality that the victor era. The woman draws our compassion and our ridicule, and also this sets increase a tug the war in between high feeling and also ridicule. In the end, ridicule wins out. The authenticity of the noble “emotions” is thrown into doubt. By the moment the poem concludes, the dead woman’s sensibility has been exposed together a cliche and Hardy’s readers are compelled to confront their very own feelings in the exact same light.

The structure of “Ah, are You Digging On mine Grave?” is a acquainted one, although not one commonly linked with poetry: the joke. A instance is established and also briefly developed, climate the beat line turns everything on its head. In Hardy’s bitter joke, a dead woman has high-flown expectation of the living: her loved one will continue to be forever faithful to her; her family members will continue to watch after her exactly as they walk in life; and also even she enemy’s hatred will certainly not wane. The poem’s punch line deflates she hopes and reveals them together vain and also ridiculous.

Hardy sets increase his hoax carefully, v a poet’s fist to the language he uses. The setting is collection in the first two lines. A sigh native the grave appears to signal a profound meditation on mortality and love. The phrasing that the two lines is practically self-consciously “poetic.” together language is preserved throughout the first three stanzas. Expressions like “planting rue,” “Death’s gin,” “the gate that shuts on all flesh” portray emotion that is heightened, more sensitive and also authentic than everyday, run-of-the-mill emotion. They awaken a sense of tragedy and compassion in the reader. But Hardy is merely setup us up because that the punch line.

The tone of the poem’s language starts to change in the 4th stanza. One solid notices it, so good is the reader’s surprise that it to be a “little dog” that was poeticizing every along. The very first seeds that doubt have actually been planted; this poem might not be exactly what it at very first seemed. The dead woman recognizes the dog’s voice and also utters the short article of belief she feels most deeply: a dog’s love outshines something human. Together she speak the poem slides

Topics for more Study

Although the poem is ultimately humorous, the feeling is black. Execute you agree with Hardy’s watch of the person condition? provide reasons to assistance your answer.Describe the reaction you felt together you read the city for the an initial time. What emotions did you feel towards the various characters? towards the author?The very first three stanzas imply that the living have betrayed the dead woman? have they? Explain.

swiftly from tragedy right into bathos. She mannered speech shows how cliched her really hopes are. That climaxes in the rhetorical concern that concludes the stanza. The is as cloying and also hackneyed as a greeting card, so lot so the one is shocked to encounter it in a work-related by a poet that Hardy’s stature.

But when the dog replies, the leader realizes the Hardy is as much as something else. The “poetry” and sentimentality have actually vanished. The dog’s voice is together ordinary and plainspoken as that of the Hardy’s Wessex nation folk. He deflates her last hope so offhandedly and also without pretense that its result is brutal. This brutality counterbalances the sentimentality, transforms it ~ above its head and shows it to be ridiculous. In ~ the exact same time the dead woman’s expectations about her lover, her family and enemy are depicted as assets of the exact same ridiculous sentimental outlook.

Hardy’s use of contrasting language does two things: it portrays the feel of the dead mrs and, at the very same time, evokes feel in readers. We feel compassion in the an initial three stanzas. Us feel an essential of the living characters. Us are attracted to share she feelings, largely due to the fact that of the method Hardy explains them in the first half the the poem. As soon as he has evoked castle in us, however, he transforms on them and also shows them to it is in false and also artificial. If they space false in the dead woman, they room false in united state as well. He is no really criticizing the dead after ~ all. Dead civilization have no hopes and also dreams. They space dead, a reality that every the living world recognize. “It cannot hurt her now,” her lover says. That does not wish to hurt her. “What great will planting flowers produce?” her family members wonders, since they will not carry her earlier to life. We, the living, space the ones with expectations of how the living will remember us after we have died. Hardy pressures us come look at those expectations and ask ourselves how realistic they are.


“Ah, are You Digging on mine Grave?” is written of 6 stanzas each containing six lines. The an initial line of each stanza is a sports of the inquiry “Are you digging on my grave?” The repeat of this line offers continuity come the poem and also provides a refrain the is similar to the repetitive phrases that are offered in songs. ~ this early refrain, the last words in currently 2 and also 6 rhyme through one another, if the currently 3, 4, and also 5 also contain end rhymes. Hardy also employs a fairly regular sample of syllables in the lines of each stanza. Despite there are occasional variations, the first, third, fourth, and also fifth present in every stanza normally contain eight syllables, while the 2nd and sixth lines typically contain 6 syllables. This regular pattern help to produce the lyrical sound of the poem—a musical rhythm that provides the city sound much like a song once read aloud. The design of the first three stanzas that the poem are additionally identical in just how the dialogue between the 2 speakers is presented; the an initial two lines of these stanzas consist of a inquiry asked by the woman buried in the grave, when the staying lines covers a reply to the question. Quotation clues are provided to signify the beginning and also end of every speaker’s words. The last two stanzas that the poem vary this structure—each stanza being dedicated to a single speaker—but the dialogue between the two characters remains the main organizational aspect throughout the poem.

Historical Context

When Hardy composed “Ah, space You Digging on mine Grave?” a transformation of values was underway in the human being that would certainly shake the foundations of almost every area the life; it to be a adjust that would influence artists and intellectuals, leaders and also common guy alike. The change affected exactly how the human being was perceived and also how male perceived himself.

Queen Victoria died in 1900, yet the attitudes and also mores that characterized the duration of her reign lingered a decade after. For plenty of historians the begin of the good War signaled the close of the victorian Age. A gentility that manners and also a code of morals that is viewed in retrospect together prudish and straitlaced significant the period. Continuous had tested many the these mindsets in his novels, in i m sorry he depicted the battles of individuals against the intolerant, hypocritical culture in which lock lived. The books treated controversial concerns such as adultery and sexuality exterior marriage v candor. Publicly reaction come the open up treatment the topics the Victorians taken into consideration fundamentally exclusive was hostile, and it eventually drove durable to give up novel writing completely in donate of poetry.

In the exact same year the Hardy’s Satires the Circumstance to be published, the The Rite of Spring, a ballet by Igor Stravinsky and also Vaslav Nijinsky was premiered in Paris. Stravinsky’s music broke radically with the norms of ingredient of the previous four centuries. Rhythm, instead of harmony and melody, to be uppermost. It was marked by abrupt changes in tempo and also dynamics; it was not music that can be quickly hummed. Nijinsky’s choreography changed the graceful motion of timeless ballet v jerky, awkward steps that simulated the primitive rituals of the distant past the the ballet portrayed. It to be so strange and different than earlier dance that as soon as it was performed because that the an initial time a riot broke out in the theater. The Rite of spring initiated one era the experimentation. Arnold Schoenberg would reject harmony entirely, jazz would be absorbed, and also classical balance and type of music of previous centuries would certainly not return for decades.

A similar transformation occurred in painting. Art had actually moved quickly from pure representation through Impressionism, a genre focused on light and also perception and featuring experiments in shade by artists favor Cezanne and also Matisse. In 1907 Pablo Picasso painted the Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, the very first work of a motion that became known

Compare & Contrast

Emily Davison, English suffragette, runs the end onto the monitor at the English Derby as a demonstration for women’s vote rights and also is trampled to fatality by one of the horses. Her death focuses the fist of thousands on the English suffragette cause.

Today: extensive inequality still exists for women. Because that example, women proceed to earn reduced wages 보다 male counterparts in the exact same job.

as Cubism. Cubism reduced the critical ties the bound painting to reproducing the real world. Picasso (and other painters ~ him) lessened their topics to geometrical shapes, as seem from different points of view. They were rearranged top top the canvas in a kind of kaleidoscopic view. Those three-dimensional forms, shattered and also reduced to two dimensions ~ above canvas, reflected the fragmentation that man’s check out of the cosmos that was taking place. Les Demoiselles d’Avignon to be such a radical break the it to be not exhibited until two decades after it to be painted.

As continuous was writing “Ah, room You Digging On mine Grave?” another transformation was underway in the arts, one whose influence was not yet foreseen. Movies to be just beginning to establish themselves as renowned entertainment. Edwin S. Porter’s an excellent Train Robbery, released in 1903, had revealed the huge story-telling possibilities that the new medium. End the following ten years, movie dwellings sprang up everywhere in Europe and also the unified States. While literary works was becoming more difficult and less easily accessible to mass audiences, film engaged them quickly with the pace, intuitive style, and realism. Movies would eventually give means to radio, television, and also recordings, media that at some point displaced analysis for countless as a pastime.

The arts were likewise influenced by the revolutionary view of the human being mind that was being arisen by Sigmund Freud at an early stage in the twenty century. Freud’s psychoanalytic snapshot of humans was an extremely different from that which had conquered the Christian era. For virtually two thousand year man had actually been viewed as a complimentary being. Humans can act from selfish or noble reasons, however they freely and also consciously chose all their actions. Freud kept that numerous of the mind’s mechanisms were not conscious. Past events left their note on the mind in the kind of repressed desires and also fantasies which influenced our behavior even once we were not mindful of them. Freud’s view additionally cast doubt on the degree to which human beings were eventually responsible for their actions together well, a conflict that continues today. Freud’s view that sexuality lay at the root of human behavior and had its beginnings in childhood and infancy also scandalized turn-of-the-century society. Freud’s concepts continued to have actually an impact on all locations of the arts till late in the twenty century.

Critical Overview

Producing poetry from the mid-1890s till his fatality in 1928, Hardy has actually been perceived as a transitional poet who combined features of timeless verse with much more experimental elements. He made usage of developed poetic gadgets such as consistent forms, meter, and rhyme, but critics have also been interested in the rough, typical language and also unpolished verse the he generally employed in his poems. Lytton Strachey, creating in new Statesman in 1914, referred to the “clumsy” nature that Hardy’s verse, but found the to it is in a confident characteristic. “He fumbles,” Strachey created of Hardy, “but it is that an extremely fumbling that brings the so close to ourselves.” because that Strachey, Hardy’s “ugly and cumbrous expressions” successfully present “the quiet voice of a modern-day man or woman.” This usual language is apparent in “Ah, are You Digging on my Grave?,” specifically in the use of utterances such together “ah” and in the repeated use the dashes to suggest the hesitations that are often existing in day-to-day conversation. In fact, the poem’s expanded use of talked dialogue is another way that continuous emphasizes unpolished discourse.

Critic P. E. Mitchell in “Music and also Hardy’s Poetry” finds the the poet’s occupational incorporates many elements from English individual music, especially in regard to the rarely often, rarely rhythms the are uncovered in the songs. “In his poetry, bring the unadorned and also rugged characteristics of people song back to life,” Mitchell writes. “Ah, are You Digging on my Grave?” has some of this qualities. Its constant refrain and also uniform construction give it a musical sound, but Hardy sometimes varies the valuation by including extra rate to certain lines. The poem’s topic matter also seems in keeping with the format of individual songs, as death and also a who experiences in the afterlife are frequently referred to in timeless ballads. In drawing on people music, Mitchell believes that Hardy hope to invoke “an best social presence to be hosted up against the contemporary world” and also that this best life was taken indigenous “the unsophisticated rural past of England.” In various other words, the poet used facets of people songs in order come remind reader of the simpler means of life that when existed in the English countryside; he believed this rural way of living was far better than the hectic presence of modern-day times.


Jhan Hochman

Jhan Hochman is a writer and instructor at Portland neighborhood College in Portland, Oregon. In the adhering to essay, Hochman explores assorted stylistic facets of “Ah, space You Digging on mine Grave?” including its use of satire.

Thomas Hardy’s “Ah, room You Digging on mine Grave?” (1913) is a dramatic and also satiric dialogue in between the dead and living. A buried woman asks the exact same question—the location of the poem—three times, an initial of she lover whom she erroneously thinks is planting rue (a kind of flower symbolizing sorrow) near her gravestone, then of a member of her family, and also lastly, that her opponent whom she think is at the interment site not to tree flowers yet to desecrate the grave. After being told each time through the digger the her guesses space wrong, the buried woman provides up and asks who it is that is digging on her grave. Her interlocutor, the woman is finally told, is her small dog still living somewhere in proximity to wherein she is buried.

The hidden woman is relieved and happy until her dog tells she he did not recognize that it was her grave on which he was digging and also that the is there just to bury a bone, not due to the fact that he misses the woman. This is a city of surprising outcomes, both because that the woman and the dog.

In “Ah, room You Digging on mine Grave?” hardy not just surprises the reader regarding content, but also form. His technique, maintains Florence continuous in The Life of cutting board Hardy 1840-1928, involves a consistent employment of “cunning irregularity” applicable to what he when learned together an architect and also what that later used to his poetry. Hardy’s interest is in “the principle of spontaneity, found in mouldings, tracery, and such like—resulting in the ‘unforeseen’ (as it has been called) personality of his metres and also stanzas, the of stress rather than of syllable, poetic texture fairly than poetic veneer; the last kind that thing, as ‘constructed ornament,’ being what that … had actually been taught to stop as the plague.”

This declare certainly uses to “Ah, are You Digging on my Grave?” i m sorry has consistent stanzas of 6 lines and, generally, a consistent number of syllables per line—eight—except for the second and last lines of each stanza i beg your pardon usually have six syllables. The rhyme plan is likewise regular: abcccb. However meter and also accent are irregular, with accents fallout’s on various syllables transparent the city as deserve to be heard if one reads the very first lines of every stanza together and then the 2nd lines, and also so on. This is the poem’s cunning irregularity—that the rhythm—and an circumstances of a poet who knows “the art of concealing art.”

“Ah, are You Digging on mine Grave?” is a satire, a word as soon as thought come be acquired from satyr, a creature half-animal, half-human, that showed up in the chorus of Greek drama. Now, however, the is believed to be acquired from the Latin indigenous satira, definition medley or hodgepodge, the hatchet being applied to at an early stage conversational pieces on a variety of subjects. However, the is the present an interpretation of satire that uses to “Are friend Digging?”; this meaning indicates a city or prose kind in i beg your pardon prevailing vices or follies are held up come ridicule. Sometimes the native is provided interchangeably v lampoon which applies to the ridicule the persons, situations, or institutions. With our meanings clear, what then is the “prevailing evil or folly held up to ridicule” in Hardy’s poem? that is west idealism or sentimentalism connected with continuous devotion come the dead. The buried woman imagines she is to let go by those who were close to her, or is tho hated by her former enemy. She is mistaken. The living, while remembering her, have actually moved ~ above to other preoccupations.

Depending on the genre that story in i m sorry the dead appear as characters, they space most often wise or horrific. In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, for example, the dead King speaks to his boy Hamlet the dastardly deeds and hatched plots the which only the dead King and the murderers have actually knowledge. In Bram Stoker’s Dracula, the dead bleed the living to create much more dead, who are not forever dead (as is the much more pedestrian notion), but instead, forever alive. Yet the dead woman of Hardy’s poem is neither wise nor terrifying. She is, favor a living character would be, can not to see due to her irreversible enclosure. She is, however, able to hear and speak a an extremely normal, conversational, and also misguided speech favor the living.

This combination of components renders the woman, in spite of the fact that she is dead, a non-threatening and sentimental presence/absence; perhaps

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Lytton Strachey’s book Eminent Victorians changed the arts of biography. In the Strachey casts one ironical eye on some of the symbols of victor England.The firearms of respectable by Barbara Tuchman chronicles the turbulent political instance in Europe the led directly to the outbreak that the first World War.

this sentimentalism account for her living on in death, since hope, even when sentimental, is believed to keep one “alive.” In a phrase, it deserve to be said—playing through the double definition of dumb—that the hidden woman is and is no dumb. In many classic narratives the death, dead souls room thought to have learned native death. The this woman foolishly thinks she is devotedly remembered also as she lies in her grave, then, is surprising.

In this city there is not just a dead woman yet a talk dog. The dead room able to speak, for this reason why not animals? The meaning is that beings usually believed dead or unconscious are lugged to life, or in the case of the dog, made to be what humans think about more fully alive. Yet is this completely true? ~ above one hand the dog is do to show up more fully alive with the “gift” that speech, but on the other, the dog is voided that what dogs space usually believed to have, other that often makes them yes, really “alive” for humans: loyalty. While making the life of the dog much more human by having the dog speak, Hardy additionally renders the dog a much more living example of “dogginess”: the dog has actually his very own life

“After coming to the end of ‘Ah, space You Digging on my grave?’ the reader realizes that the title would have actually been more accurate—even if much less interesting—if called, ‘Oh. No one Is Digging on mine Grave.’”

apart from human being concerns. He is also busy burying bones to worry around loyalty.

The dog is, in addition, rendered painfully honest—he does no lie to spare the corpse the hurt of no being remembered. This renders the dog seem more like an animal since humans, it is typically thought, space the creatures that lie (variously referred to as an heritage or defect), when animals, that is likewise thought, cannot help but it is in honest. However at the exact same time, Hardy makes the dog more of what is “supposedly” conceived of as human due to the fact that he—like the lover, family member, and also enemy—has moved on through his life. While some might contact selfishness or self-involvement a characteristics of animals, the properties is not usually applied to what is generally thought to be the many loyal and human that pets, the dog.

Finally, there is one critical surprising development regarding the dog. Though dogs are hardly ever thought come exhibit such behavior, the buried woman sentimentally believes that the dog tries come reach she beneath the ground. Due to the fact that the woman appears so lot to want to it is in missed, she makes a further, perhaps also bigger error in judgment after asking the key question—after every this is a dog, no some lovesick or vengeful human. All in all, the dog’s habits is for this reason rich and also the woman’s actions so simple-minded—even if additionally rather how amazing in the paper definition of that most romantic that mediums, poetry—that readers understand that Hardy’s satire is aimed in ~ the habits of the woman. The dog’s behavior, while made complicated by Hardy, is not ridiculed as lot as the is do surprising and humorous.

In his The pattern of hardy Poetry, Samuel Hynes calls Hardy’s poems, of i m sorry there room over 900, “antinomial.” What Hynes method is the Hardy go not, at least in his poems, existing the classic aspects of a syllogism: a thesis and an antithesis reconciled by a synthesis. Instead, Hardy an ext often presents a dramatic conflict without reconciliation. In “Ah, room You Digging on mine Grave?” thesis and also antithesis are represented by the buried woman and also living dog, respectively. No final statement reconciles the woman to those who have actually not mental her. Fairly than Hardy therefore obviously presenting his watch of remembrance of the dead, he gift a specific view. Together there is nothing because that the hidden woman to do but accept the antithetical statements presented by the dog, there is tiny for the leader to do but accept the the life do, v time, give up the dead.

Of course, the leader might also deny such human being behavior, or at least denounce this subject, together one unfit because that poetry, a medium more often assumed to save the finest of what world think it means to be human being (and much less of what human being think it means to it is in animal). For Hardy, however, this latter habits by the reader would certainly be missing the point. Together he described in his Apology (Late Lyrics and Earlier), Hardy created his poems v “obstinate questionings” and also “blank misgivings” in stimulate to take a complete look at the worst of human foibles and behavior. He argues that this is not pessimism, yet optimism under conditions of undeviating honesty.

Finally agree the worst in Hardy’s poem—that the living pertained to forget the dead—makes readers know the poem’s title together ironic. After comes to the end of “Ah, room You Digging on my Grave?” the reader realizes that the location would have been more accurate—even if less interesting—if called “Oh. Nobody Is Digging on my Grave.”

Source: Jhan Hochman, in an essay because that Poetry for Students, Gale, 1998.

David Kelly

David Kelly is a writer and instructor in ~ Oakton neighborhood College in Des Plaines, Illinois. In the following essay, Kelly delves into Hardy’s personal life to discover the motivation—whether ominous, humorous, or also kind—behind “Ah, are You Digging on mine Grave?”

“Ah, room You Digging on my Grave?” is frequently chosen to represent Hardy’s poetry in anthologies for students, but scholars often pass the by, providing at finest an embarrassed comment on the language or pointing come its feasible pedigree (the poems the may have inspired it). That is easy to watch why beginning poetry reader would prefer this piece: unlike much of the poetry the is studied in schools, i m sorry is regularly chosen for study precisely due to the fact that it is hard to understand—and because of this deserves some effort or concentration—, the durable poem seems to count on no symbolism or “deep covert meaning,” so the casual leader feels comfortable with understanding it after simply one reading. Also, it doesn’t hurt the poem’s popularity the it is created in reasonably common language. Modern American readers might find its ton a small stiff, but it is certainly much more comfortable than works using complex phraseologies or archaic language that the “thou” or “whilst” variety. It is just as simple to know why literature critics can not think about this city worth your time, due to the fact that its message—that a dead woman anxious to find out who has actually remembered her finds out that no one has—presents movie critics with no intellectual challenge. Critics additionally tend to shudder once they check out that a poem has played out together a joke, as this one is, through the humiliating revelation at the end that the dead woman had no graveside visitor, just her dog, and also that even the dog was simply at she grave through coincidence. Edgar Allan Poe’s stories face the very same dilemma that being well-known with normal people but dismissed as “lightweight” by critics. The thinking right here seems come be the a writer that as shaped she or his job-related to be amusing have to surely have actually neglected its literature content. Even if it is or no this is true is not as crucial as learning that that is believed to it is in true, and so humor frightens critics away.

The mistake made by both the poem’s fans and those who dismiss it easy is the they assume the totality story is ~ above the page, and also there is nothing much more to it. In most cases, a poem need to be compelled to was standing by itself, rather of relying on how its subject coincides with facts from the author’s life. In this case, however, the piece is ten times an ext interesting than simply its words due to the fact that its very first publication was in September that 1913.

Why is this significant? due to the fact that Hardy’s an initial wife, who he had actually been married to for virtually forty years, the last thirty of lock unhappily, passed away in November the 1912. Through April that 1913 durable had currently proposed marital relationship to a an excellent friend the hers, that he would marry the following year. The implications are more chilling than many dark comedies would dare attempt: it is one point to believe that the author invented a pathetic character, a dead woman so unloved that her friends give up her and her husband remarries quickly, and quite one more thing to believe that the pathetic biology is a human from the author’s actual life, the the callous husband

“… t is one point to think that the writer invented a pathetic character, a dead woman so unloved the her friends abandon her and also her husband remarries quickly, and quite one more thing to believe that the pathetic creature is a human being from the author’s real life.…”

is the poet himself. Even dark humor, as this poem clearly traffics in, requires some lack of sympathy because that the human being who bring away a pie in the challenge or drops off the scaffold, or is exit by she dog. As soon as the suspicion has been elevated that Hardy would certainly shamelessly play such a dirty cheat on his dead wife Emma, the emphasis of attention shifts indigenous the topic of the hoax to the teller.

In life, probably she deserved this scorn. Account of Hardy’s marital relationship linger ~ above the dark side of the spectrum, hovering somewhere in between “cold” and also “hate-filled.” castle met at St. Juliot, Cornwall, in 1870, as soon as Hardy was functioning as one architect and was associated of the reconstruction of the rectory there. In his essay in The Genius of thomas Hardy, Geoffrey Grigson describes Emma’s father together “a failure solicitor, an impoverished idler, offered to drink.” for this reason Hardy’s future father-in-law definitely had very small to be proud of and also no reason, various other than household history, come think that was better than Hardy, yet that walk not store him from creating a note prior to their marriage in 1874 calling the poet a “low-born churl who has presumption come marry into my family.” the unearned snobbishness lugged over to Emma after she marriage. At first, she seemed to have been thankful to be stable down: she was thirty (Hardy to be 34) and also not very good looking, and also her society prospects to be unpromising. She entered marriage happily, and also at the beginning, in ~ least, things went well between Thomas Hardy and Emma Lavinia Gifford Hardy.

Maybe jealousy had actually something to perform with it. Hardy to be a writer once he met Emma and also he had published a couple of minor works, but, as noted, he wasn’t successful sufficient to battered his work job. Nothing could have predicted the success that he to be to become. His an initial major novel, much From The Maddening Crowd, was released the year of your wedding, and the proceeds assisted finance a honeymoon in France. Still, her very own ego must have actually ached together his fame prospered with the succeeding publication the such standards as The Return that the Native, The mayor of Casterbridge, Tess of the D’Urbervilles, and Jude the Obscure. In her publication Thomas Hardy’s Women and also Men: The loss of Nature, concerning the writer’s treatment of gender, ann Z. Mickelson reported that “Like Zelda Fitzgerald, one more woman life in the zero of she husband’s fame, Emma tried she hand at assorted things and then turned to writing—with the same lack of encouragement and success the Zelda experienced.”

Maybe he disgusted her. Emma, except being such a snob that she would not permit Hardy’s parents into their house, to be a deeply religious person. Durable offended her, and much that the reading public, by pointing out matters of sexuality in his novels—not as graphically together we hear them debated today top top the median comedy program on television, yet strongly enough to advanced protests and force the writer to speak the end in his own defense. In 1890 he released an essay titled “Candour in English Literature,” an intellectual piece explaining his reasons for talking frankly and openly, stating that suppression caused, among other things, “the catastrophes based on sexual relations.” This template would show up throughout his fiction. His next and also last novel, 1895’s Jude the Obscure, was about bad marriages, and was much more concerned through sexuality than any kind of of his previous books. Emma was so scandalized the she checked out London and tried, unsuccessfully, to block that is publication.

From 1895 to the finish of his life in 1928, Hardy’s literary output concentrated mainly ~ above poetry, with various essays and also short story being released along the way. He constantly considered himself a poet, even while his novels were praised the civilization over and their sales were maintaining him financially comfortable. V the literary call Hardy had established, the didn’t matter whether his poems were critically successful, which was what enabled him to proceed his poetic efforts. Also in his novels, Hardy’s usage of language had constantly been an awkward mix of the common and also the elevated, and also isolated in poems, his flaws ended up being magnified. In one essay around Hardy’s usage of English in thomas Hardy: The Writer and also His Background, Norman Page had a quote indigenous T. S. Eliot that records the feeling of many literary critics and also may tell us something around the type of man Hardy was: “he was indifferent also to the prescripts of an excellent writing; the wrote occasionally overpoweringly well, however always very carelessly; at time his format touched sublimity without ever before having passed with the stage of gift good.” This sounds favor the kind of guy who could publish a poem around a dead woman after his wife’s death without seeing exactly how the two could seem to be related. As provided before, he was a dedicated poet, and also critics agree the the abuse he took for making use of “common” language probably just significant him as ahead the his time, however there is no consensus around whether us would recognize him this day if he wrote poetry alone.

Hardy’s poetry take it a rotate with Emma’s fatality in 1912. Biographers and historians keep in mind that, just as his works throughout the late decades of your forty-year marital relationship reflected couples with tiny in common, life distantly from each other even when they were in the exact same house, his poetry started reflecting great things when she died. “One forgets all the recent years and differences,” he created to a girlfriend (as noted in Timothy Hands’s publication Thomas Hardy),“and the mind goes earlier to the early times once each was lot to every other—in she case and also mine, vigorously much.” This is the relationship between the Hardys that literary critics like come remember: cool, aloof, estranged yet repeatedly so for decades, and also tragically only revived too late, after she death—the poet awash in nostalgia and also regret. Come quote Grigson again: “Hardy once more loved and longed for his young wife, together he had first known her, in a full of 116 poems, about an eighth of the poems he ever wrote.” “Ah, room You Digging on mine Grave?” would need to be an incredible piece of absentmindedness if this “renewed love” theory is to be taken seriously.

We have actually Hardy’s inspiration for this piece. City XXVII of A. E. Housman’ s A Shropshire Lad was among Hardy’s favorites: starting with the line “Is my team ploughing?” it is structured as a question and answer collection between a newly deceased man and his best friend, ending with a solid sexual ide (“I cheer a dead man’s sweetheart, never ask me whose”). In The Poems of thomas Hardy: A vital Introduction, Kenneth Marsden points come a city by German poet Heinrich Heine called “Ich stand in dunkeln Traumen” that both Housman and also Hardy would have read and also that he thinks was the basis because that both their works. Maybe, simply maybe, continuous looked ~ above “Ah, are You Digging on mine Grave?” as an intellectual exercise, oblivious to the solid similarity in between his so late wife, Emma, and the abandoned mrs of the poem. Or maybe he was joking around callousness, one indication that he felt therefore secure in his love because that Emma that he walk not believe anyone would certainly seriously think she lay abandoned in her grave.

Clearly, durable was no the form of man to worry much about the public’s tardy of him, or that would have stuck to his successful career in novel writing and also he might not have actually published the huge volume of poetry that nobody loved an ext than he love himself. Given the overwhelming tenderness that he confirmed toward Emma after her death, it is unlikely that he would have actually published a city openly slandering her, v nothing to gain however spite. The many probable price is the he feeling she would certainly have interpreted this poem and also its inferences, that it to be something choose a personal joke between them, lot as this appears uncommonly tender for the distant pair that the people saw them as for years.

Source: David Kelly, in an essay for Poetry for Students, Gale, 1998.


Brooks, Jean, cutting board Hardy: The Poetic Structure, Ithaca, NY: Cornell college Press, 1971.

Brown, Joanna Cullen, A Journey into Thomas Hardy’s Poetry, London: Allison & Busby, 1989.

Cox, R. G., thomas Hardy: The an essential Heritage, new York: Barnes and also Noble, 1970.

Grigson, Geoffry, “The Poems,” The Genius of cutting board Hardy, edited through Margaret Drabble, new York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1976, pp. 80-93.

Hands, Timothy, thomas Hardy, brand-new York: St. Martin’s Press, 1995.

Hynes, Samuel, The sample of continuous Poetry, Chapel Hill: university of phibìc Carolina Press, 1961.

Marsden, Kenneth, The Poems of thomas Hardy: A vital Introduction, new York: Oxford university Press, 1969.

Mickelson, ann Z., cutting board Hardy’s Women and also Men: The defeat of Nature, Metuchen, NJ: The Scarecrow Press, Inc., 1976.

Mitchell, P. E., “Music and also Hardy’s Poetry,” in English literary works in Transition: 1880-1920, Vol. 30, No. 3, 1987, pp. 308-21.

Orel, Harold, in critical Essays on thomas Hardy’s Poetry, G.K. Hall, 1995.

Page, Norman, “Hardy and the English Language” in thomas Hardy: The Writer and also His Background, new York: St. Martin’s Press, 1980.

Strachey, Lytton, “Mr. Hardy’s brand-new Poems,” in brand-new Statesman, 1914.

For more Study

Bailey, J.O., The poetry of thomas Hardy: A Handbook and also Commentary, Chapel Hill, NC: college of phibìc Carolina Press, 1970.

A reference book whose entries briefly talk about the origins and themes that the thousands or for this reason poems Hardy created in his lifetime.

Brennecke, Ernst, Jr., cutting board Hardy’s Universe, new York: Haskell House, 1966.

Brennecke’s conversation of Hardy’s poem focuses on its “cynical and bitter absence of faith in person nature.”

Brooks, Jean, cutting board Hardy: The Poetic Structure, Ithaca, NY: Cornell college Press, 1971

Brooks compares the question/answer framework of in “Ah, space You Digging on mine Grave?” with other Hardy poems.

See more: 0Xc00D36E5 Item Is Unplayable Please Reacquire The Content, Solutions To Fix Video Error: Item Is Unplayable

Zietlow, Paul, moments of Vision: The city of thomas Hardy, Cambridge: Harvard college Press, 1974.