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A Backward Spring

By Thomas Hardy

The Poem
The trees are afraid to put forth buds,
And there is timidity in the grass;
The plots lie gray where gouged by spuds,
And whether next week will pass
Free of sly sour winds is the fret of each bush
Of barberry waiting to bloom.
Yet the snowdrop's face betrays no gloom,
And the primrose pants in its heedless push,
Though the myrtle asks if it's worth the fight
This year with frost and rime
To venture one more time
On delicate leaves and buttons of white
From the selfsame bough as at last year's prime,
And never to ruminate on or remember
What happened to it in mid-December
April 1917.

Stanza 1

Line 1
The poems contain of non-literal meaning that is
personification, is a description of an inanimate
object as being a living person or animal. In the
first line of this poem, hardy expresses that the
trees are afraid. As we know afraid is a human
feeling, being frightened, indeed such emotional
feelings are only shown as a natural reaction from
human when they feel something wrong, or being
shocked. Trees have no feeling like this as they are
inanimate. In this expression, the trees are afraid of
to put forth buds, as such they are afraid to begin to
sprout. We know that buds usually comes in the
spring when the tress grow new and fresh.

Line 2
This line also contains personification as there is
timidity in the grass. This would suggest that
the grass is shy or lacking self confidence. Hardy
uses these personifications to suggest that there
is a sense of fearfulness in the air. As even the
nature is hesitant. As such they are experiencing
a backward spring. Usually in the spring time
there is confidence in the nature as that is the
time when nature is at its peak, however this
spring seems rather opposite.

Line 3
the plots lie gray where gouged by spuds the
nature again is not as it should be during the
winter time as the gray suggest dullness and it
would seem as though there was digging in the
earth. gouged by spuds to gouge means to make
an impression in a surface or to destroy or injure
severely as such it would seem as though the
plots of earth were gouged (destroyed) by spuds
( A sharp spade like tool used for rooting or
digging out weeds).

Line 4-6
and whether next week will pass here hardy
seems to have doubt whether that there will be
a next week or that they will make it through
next week free of sly without the interference of
cunning sour winds is the fret worry of each
bush of barberry waiting to bloom.
The worry of the barberry bushes is that next
week will pass without the interference of sour
winds. Again this suggest that there is unusual
happenings in the spring as the bushes are
worrying and unsure to when they will be able to
peacefully bloom.

Stanza 2

Line 7-9
yet the snowdrops face betrays no gloom in all
the unusual happenings of nature the face of
the snowdrops is false or disloyal in expressing
gloom An atmosphere of melancholy or
and the primrose pants in its heedless push
Primrose- Any of numerous plants of the
genus Primula, having well-developed basal
leaves and tubular, variously colored flowers
grouped in umbels or heads with a funnelshaped or salver like corolla and a tube much
longer than the calyx.

So the primrose pants make an heedless push

meaning careless or inattentive. though the
myrtle asks if its worth the fight myrtle- Widely
cultivated as a groundcover for its dark green
shiny leaves and usually blue-violet flowers. As
though the nature as given up or wave the white
flag so to speak. The primrose pants are being
careless or reckless in their push and the myrtle
wonders if its even worth it to try.

Line 10
this year with the frost and rime rime- a coating
of ice, as on grass and trees, formed when
extremely cold water droplets freeze almost
instantly on a cold surface. The mention of frost
and rime in spring is rather unusual as by spring
nature would have already dried away all the
cold of winter. As the title of the poem suggest
this spring is rather different though backward
as the happening are done or arranged in a
manner or order that is opposite to previous
occurrence or normal use.

Line 11-15
to venture one more time to risk one more time
on delicate leaves and buttons of white white
here suggest that the atmosphere is white which
usually happens in the winter however in the
spring time the occurrence of frost and rime on
delicate leaves and buttons of white.
from the selfsame bough as at last years prime
identical branch as at last years prime-first in
quality. And never to ruminate- reflect on
remember what happened to it in mid december.