Thomas Hardy

(2 June 1840 – 11 January 1928 / Dorchester / England)

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"How Great My Grief" (Triolet)


How great my grief, my joys how few,
Since first it was my fate to know thee!
- Have the slow years not brought to view
How great my grief, my joys how few,
Nor memory shaped old times anew,
   Nor loving-kindness helped to show thee
How great my grief, my joys how few,
   Since first it was my fate to know thee?

Submitted: Saturday, January 04, 2003

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Comments about this poem ("How Great My Grief" (Triolet) by Thomas Hardy )

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  • Gangadharan Nair Pulingat (4/9/2014 9:40:00 AM)

    Human being having a good mind and inner awakening and love is always welcome in society and his services to the fellow human being is also helpful for the human development and basic and positive habits of compassion. The memories of the past is a continuing experience for an individual and someone more awakened surely reopens his mind and thinks about the past both the success and failures of the past and his own thinking of that time which is always an interesting subject which is not normally passing to others in conversations. Here the great poet opens his mind to himself and remembers the grief of the past and the few joys he have got in this worldly living.He understands the values of the universal power who gave such a fate and love in this life. The poem is an emotional one and poet himself thinks about himself and sees the universal power who destined the sorrow and happiness in once own life. (Report) Reply

  • Carlos Echeverria (6/13/2012 10:21:00 AM)

    Hardy wisely chose and perfectly executed the best medium (the triolet) to playfully express wit and sarcasm. (Report) Reply

  • Nihoulu Lee (6/13/2012 9:50:00 AM)

    i relly like this poem it makes me hard as a rock. dont worry, im asian so its okay for me to not be racist towards others. can someone tell me if hes a jew or not because i want to meet him if hes not. (Report) Reply

  • Nihoulu Lee (6/13/2012 9:42:00 AM)

    This poem can be smd i belive it was ritten by a jew. im asian so im not racist. (Report) Reply

  • Oludipe Oyin Samuel (6/13/2012 9:20:00 AM)

    Always together, eternally apart is grief and its factor. How great the grief, the joy how few... There's more to this piece... Hmmm. Does this mean fate can predetermine grief? (Report) Reply

  • Udiah Witness to YAH (6/13/2012 2:42:00 AM)

    How great His grief, it's just the same
    For those who come to know Thee
    For we see struggles in the game
    How great His grief, it's just the same
    For those who follow in Your Name
    When we realize the pain of those who chose to know Thee
    How great His grief, it's just the same
    For the world laughs at those who chose to know Thee (Report) Reply

  • Terence George Craddock (6/13/2010 10:53:00 AM)

    How great my grief, my joys how few,
    Since first it was my fate to know thee!

    Two very powerful declarative lines, outline a life which becomes mainly 'slow years' of intense sorrow, with few respites of joy, after a meeting of ill omen. The moral seems to be choose acquaintances and friends wisely and think carefully, before making life altering choices, because some options have devastating consequences. These sentiments are delightfully expressed in a revealing way.
    This is a cleverly written poem crafted to a rigid requisite. The triolet must be written with eight lines rhyming in an exact rhyme scheme of abaaabab. The first, fourth, and seventh lines must be exactly the same, and the second and eighth lines. Thomas Hardy has written an interesting triolet, which laments the haunting memory of an error of judgement. (Report) Reply

  • Joseph Poewhit (6/13/2010 5:25:00 AM)

    Brings forth the point, we meet people who impact our lives sometimes, beyond our comprehension and emotional control. (Report) Reply

  • Eilidh St John (6/13/2010 4:49:00 AM)

    Pruchnicki is right of course. The poem is a perfectly executed triolet and as such is too playful a vehicle for the expression of real grief. Knowing something of Hardy's life and work, and even more of the Wessex temperament to which I am heir, it is not surprising that sorrow is an undertone in the poem but there is nothing of the raw emotion which characterises real grief. There is something else going on here. I sense Hardy's tongue well and truly stuck in his cheek. I suspect he is sending up the sad and sentimental melancholia of the folk songs of his native county (Report) Reply

  • Manonton Dalan (6/13/2010 4:44:00 AM)

    this style of writing is close to pantoum or lyrics of a song. he could be just
    singing a tune...hoping somebody listen. (Report) Reply

  • Ramesh T A (6/13/2010 2:23:00 AM)

    By repetition he tells us about the intensity of his grief in life! A technique with some effect may make the matter more formidable than actual! (Report) Reply

  • Michael Pruchnicki (6/13/2009 4:48:00 PM)

    Does no one except me and Straw recognize a 'triolet'? It's not the reality of life, as Hardy indicates by naming the French verse form he's using - eight lines, the first two being repeated as the last two lines and the fourth recurring also as the fourth line. The poem is an exercise in prosody, don't you see? In fact, it's kind of a tease, the exaggeration implied in 'How Great My Grief'! The poem is not negative in the modern sense at all. Why don't some of you out there pick up a text on poetry once in a while and spare us your gaseous comments? Please do! (Report) Reply

  • Lynn Glover (6/13/2009 8:58:00 AM)

    Hardy is expressing a negative attitude simply because grief can only be negative.
    This is truly a great poem. (Report) Reply

  • Kevin Straw (6/13/2009 4:02:00 AM)

    Hardy is not promoting a negative attitude - he is simply stating his feelings. There are people we met who cause us great grief and little joy - that is a fact of life. (Report) Reply

  • Bonnie Cote (6/13/2008 5:13:00 PM)

    This promotes a negative attitude. It is an individual's burden to bear responsibility for their own joy and grief. (Report) Reply

Read all 16 comments »

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