Time's Laughingstocks was Thomas Hardy's third short verse collection and the first after his epic poem The Dynasts. Though Hardy was sixty-nine, it is on par with prior works; some may even prefer it. The work is indelibly stamped with his signature genius, exploring classic Hardy themes like unrequited love, fate, chance, human insignificance, and the universe's indifference in an astonishing variety of forms and with remarkable consistency. It even includes "A Trampwoman's Tragedy," which Hardy thought was his best poem, and it is easy to agree. There are many other classics, including "A Sunday Morning Tragedy," "Shut Out That Moon," "He Abjures Love," "One We Knew," "God's Education," and "A Young Man's Epigram On Existence." Belying Hardy's diversity, the book is divided into four very different sections: "Time Laughingstocks," a collection of bleakly tragic verses unflinchingly showing Hardy's signature pessimism; "More Love Lyrics," which is self-explanatory and contains some of Hardy's best writing on a subject he excelled at, though the depiction is unsurprisingly dark; "A Set of Country Songs," ballads and ballad-like poems set in Hardy's customary Wessex; and "Pieces Occasional and Various," a catch-all section with both personal and philosophical poems. Nearly all the poems are excellent, and several are great. Simply put, they are essential for anyone interested in Hardy's poetry.
However, it is important to remember that Hardy continued writing poems for nearly another twenty years. More importantly, in contrast to almost all artists, his work remained consistent. Collected editions are thus ideal, especially as many are available, including some for little or no more than this single book. Only those who for some reason want Time's Laughingstocks as a standalone should bother with anything else, great as this is in itself.
Description: Collection of poems from the famous English novelist, short story writer, and poet of the naturalist movement, who was awarded the Order of Merit in 1910.