Thomas Hardy's The Voice: The Emotional Havoc generated by a semi-colon!
Woman much missed, how you call to me, call to me,
Saying that now you are not as you were
When you had changed from the one who was all to me,
But as at first, when our day was fair.
Can it be you that I hear? Let me view you then,
Standing as when I drew near to the town
Where you would wait for me: yes, as I knew you then,
Even to the original air-blue gown!
Or is it only the breeze, in its listlessness
Travelling across the wet mead to me here,
You being ever dissolved to wan wistlessness,
Heard no more again far or near?
Thus I; faltering forward,
Leaves around me falling,
Wind oozing thin through the thorn from norward,
And the woman calling.
I have always loved the shattering hiatus in the final stanza. Hardy has a predilection for the semi-colon's capacity for emotional havoc! There can be little consolation for the speaker as his 'I' fails to find any stabilising acknowledgement or forgiveness. Who is more lost, the speaker or the dead figure? And what would she SAY if he could access her words? Would she taunt him still further for her freedom from him? Nostalgia cannot resurrrect the impossible and the very constructed nature of the poet's longing draws attention to his soulful recognition that there are no second chances EVER in Hardy. Does he deserve to see her again and hear her voice? I think the poem negates the possibility. She may sing to others, but the 'thorn' underlines his permanent estrangement.