Thomas Hardy

A Broken Appointment by Thomas Hardy

Hardy’s poetry focuses on themes such as disappointment, thwarted love, and pessimism. ‘A Broken Appointment’ provokes empathy towards the lyrical voice.

‘A Broken Appointment’ has two stanzas with eight lines each. It has an AABCBCAA rhyme scheme or it can be read as a quatrain, with an ABAB rhyme scheme, framed by unequal couplets. The couplets have an iambic dimeter, an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable with two metrical feet in each line, and the couplet at the beginning of the stanza rhymes with the one at the end. On the other hand, the quatrain has iambic pentameter. The rigid and regular rhyme accentuates the lyrical voice’s calmness and resignation towards the situation. There is a sort of circularity within the stanzas as they end with the same line that they begin with. Moreover, the couplets that frame the quatrains also add to this circular feeling.

Thomas Hardy’s poetry focuses on themes such as disappointment, thwarted love, and pessimism. These can be read in ‘A Broken Appointment’. ‘A Broken Appointment’ depicts a situation in which the lyrical voice laments that his lover didn’t turn up to an arranged meeting. Thus, the lyrical voice meditates on the rejection that surrounds love

A Broken Appointment by Thomas Hardy


A Broken Appointment Analysis

First Stanza

You did not come,

And marching Time drew on, and wore me numb,—

Yet less for loss of your dear presence there

Than that I thus found lacking in your make

That high compassion which can overbear

Reluctance for pure lovingkindness’ sake

Grieved I, when, as the hope-hour stroked its sum,

You did not come.

In the first stanza, the lyrical voice expresses his thoughts and waits for the one who did not come. The first line starts with a strong statement: “You did not come”. This strong beginning focuses on the mention of a person “You” and the action she did in the past “You did not come”. The lyrical voice accentuates the fact that he waited for a very long time(“And marching Time drew on, and wore me numb”) and uses long vowels and a dark mood to reflect this. Notice how time is referred to with the phrase “marching Time”.  Then, the lyrical voice focuses on his feeling and how this moment of waiting affected him.

There are alliterations in the third and fourth lines (“less for loss” and “Than that I thus”). Moreover, there are enjambments in lines three and six. With the absence of the loved one (“Yet less for loss of your dear presence there”), the lyrical voice has a realization (“Than that I thus found”) about the one that he waited for (“lacking in your make/That high compassion which can overbear/Reluctance for pure lovingkindness’ sake”). The final couplet creates a feeling of pity towards the lyrical voice, as the syntax emphasizes the sorrow of the lyrical voice (“Grieved I”). The stanza ends with “You did not come”, which is a repetition of the first line. This accentuates the emotional effect that the event had on the lyrical voice.


Second Stanza

You love not me,

And love alone can lend you loyalty;

–I know and knew it. But, unto the store

Of human deeds divine in all but name,

Was it not worth a little hour or more

To add yet this: Once you, a woman, came

To soothe a time-torn man; even though it be

You love not me?

In this second stanza, the lyrical voice focuses on the consequences this event had on him. The second stanza also begins with a strong statement: “You love not me”. This first line is a realization after the meditation of the first stanza. The lyrical voice has a tone of acceptance, as he is sure that his loved one doesn’t love him and loves another (“And love alone can lend you loyalty”). There is alliteration in line two (“And love alone can lend you loyalty”) and repetition on line three (“I know and knew it”) to accentuate this. The lyrical voice goes back to meditating on his loved one’s actions (“But, unto the store/Of human deeds divine in all but name”).

Moreover, there is alliteration in line four (“deeds divine”). Then, the lyrical voice questions him/herself again: “Was it not worth a little hour or more/ to add yet this: Once you, a woman, came/To soothe a time-torn man; even though it be/You love not me?”. The “deeds divine” would be to “soothe a time-torn man”. Notice how the lyrical voice represents himself as a “time-torn man”. The tone shifts at the end as the lyrical voice asks: “You love not me?”. Once again, the first line of the stanza is repeated at the end, providing a circular feel, but in this case, the end is a question rather than a statement. The tone of resignation changes as the rhythm of the poem is altered a little bit, because of the use of punctuation, and the lyrical voice is still meditating on the broken appointment and the loved one.


About Thomas Hardy

Thomas Hardy was born in 1840 and died in 1928. He was an English novelist and poet. Thomas Hardy was greatly influenced by southern England, where he was born and raised. His works expand through the Victorian and the Modern era. Thomas Hardy published eight volumes of poetry during the last twenty years of his life. His most known works are his lyric poems which influenced great poets such as Philip Larkin, Robert Frost, W.H. Auden, among others. Thomas Hardy’s poetry focuses on the musical aspects of language, by paying attention to the different possibilities of sound. He was greatly influenced by the Romantic Movement, and especially by William Wordsworth. Thomas Hardy viewed himself mainly as a poet, but he also wrote novels like Far from the Madding Crowd, Jude the Obscure, and The Mayor of Casterbridge.

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Julieta Abella Poetry Expert
Julieta has a BA and a MA in Literature and joined the Poem Analysis team back in May 2017. She has a great passion for poetry and literature and works as a teacher and researcher at Universidad de Buenos Aires.
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