1. How does the reader become aware of the identity of the persona or the speaker?

2. Which words establish the poem's tone as ironic and cynical?

3. In terms of twentietyh-century history, what events outside the realm of the dead have momentarily interrupted their etyernal sleep?

4. What is God's attitude towards humanity in this poem?

5. Words such as "drearisome" (5)," howl" (6),"hounds" (6)," worms" (8), and "mounds" (8) create what kind of mood?

6. Why does Parson Thirdly wish that instead of preaching he "had stuck to pipes and beer"?

7. In what two rather different senses is Parson Thirdly the speaker's "neighbour"?

8. The theme concerns the painful knowledge of the dead and the utter ignorance of the living. In what ways does Hardy so the dead as "knowing" and the living as "ignorant"?

9. How does Hardy convey the belief that war is pointlessly destructive, no matter what its justification?

10. Why "Christes sake" rather than "Christ's sake"?

11. In what ways does the poem resemble the dramatic monologues of Tennyson and Browning?

12. The voices in this poem offer three perspectives about the human condition. How has the poet has employed these three different voices to offer three different views about humanity and its problems?

13. Hardy's poem about the Boer War, "Drummer Hodge," also depends for effect upon dramatic contrasts, but these have to do primarily with the soldier and his environment; however, ignorance, lack of understanding, is also an issue there: compare the two poems and what they reveal of Hardy's attitude to war.

Last modified 14 May 2001