It can be said that the origins of “An invitation to the United States” are not conclusive, yet, various theories dictate that the event that fueled this work revolved around an invitation to America in order to celebrate the Centennial of Edgar Allen Poes death. Therefore one must consider the context in relation to the content and understand the myriad of emotions within Hardy’s mind. The poem juxtaposes two geographical regions and presents the reader with Hardy’s perspective towards the omnipresent contrast between the United States and England.
In effect he is in a contemplative mood and reminiscing about past experiences of sorrow and loss, hence distorting his perception and renders him seeking new, more prosperous times. This concept of “rebirth” and new opportunities is combined with the consideration of past poetic masters, conveying a distinctive origin for both and emphasising the magic and freedom throughout Americas vast land. The poem is presented in two stanzas, each containing 8 lines. In addition to this, the poem has a continuous rhythm and works around a rhyme scheme of (A,B,A,B,B,C,B,C).Order now
This regular rhyme scheme helps the poem to flow with more continuity and this fluidity helps to represent Hardy’s frame of mind and his excitement of the invitation he has received. The continuous flow of the poem also helps to emphasise Hardy’s method of traveling through different tenses and represents the poem as a device to manipulate the power of time, by which the past and present are fused as one. To further support this idea of continuity, Hardy uses enjambment to flow from one line to the next: “… claim them free from that long drip…
“, once again giving the impression that he is simply relinquishing all his emotions on to paper without pause. Thomas Hardy is contemplating what he calls “ancient lands”, hence emphasising his own perspective on the United States and conveying the sheer scope of history that it encompasses. Throughout the poem, Hardy makes use of colloquial terminology to pursue his descriptive narrative, for instance, “My ardours for emprize nigh lost”. In using such vocabulary, Hardy gives the reader an impression of the context upon which he is writing and helps distinguish his state of mind whilst writing the poem.
In actuality the poem revolves around an underlying concept of antiquity and death, emphasised through his distinctive use of imagery, “life has bared its bones to me”. This theme of decay and a sense of death reverts us back to the initial context of the poem, in relation to the anniversary of Edgar Allen Poes death, providing Hardy with a chance to reminisce upon the great influences within his life. This theme is further accentuated throughout the second stanza as Hardy uses a range of imagery to elaborate in more detail. Metaphorical language becomes evident with the term, “scored with prints of perished hands”.
In effect, Hardy intends to almost exaggerate the literature of the past and combines the more darker themes with visions of the past in order to create a picture within the readers mind. In addition, the repetition of the “p” conveys a strong sound and reinforces the importance of the comparison between past creations that remain firmly wedged within modern day society. Thomas Hardy uses similes to evoke the idea that America is simply a graveyard of genius, “… enchased and lettered as a tomb”. This gives further emphasis on the respect Hardy demonstrates for other poets and how possibly, he has been influenced in his own life.
In conclusion it can be noted that Thomas Hardy is simply reflecting on a variety of concepts as the poem develops. In a sense he uses vivid imagery to convey the contrast between America and England, in addition to the contrast of past and present. Hardy intends to emphasise and almost immortalise the past poets that have given him such inspiration. Therefore the poem acts as Hardy’s respect to Americas literature based complexity and evokes how he feels to be invited and on his opportunity to “seek a modern coast”.