It is novel to read the Neutral Tones because Hardy use a lot of imagery and symbol to visualize the broken love! Tomas Hardy also uses the sound effect to make it stronger.
ˇ§ eyes, rove, over, riddles, smile, mouth, aliveˇ¨ , these nasal sounds create a sense of melancholy. Moreover, he also uses the assonanceˇ¨ keen, deceivesˇ¨ to make this sentence full of believing and appears that they are doomed to depart from each other.
The word ˇ§toneˇ¨ here is a pun. The tone that speaker toward the woman is full of resentment and bitterness. ˇ§ chidden of God, starving sod, ash, greyˇ¨ all of them appear the inner mind of the speaker. It is said that one adds meaning to the things around him according to his mood. The tone can be the attitude toward the woman and the way he spoke to the woman is no feeling at all. From the 1st stanza shows the setting the met, and the last stanza shows that they used to be lovers (keen lessons: love deceives, and wring with wrong.) From the second stanza we can feel the mechanical conversation they have.(some words played between us to and fro) and (On which lost the more by our love.) implies that the more they talk, the more they lose.( be strangers)
The poem is divided into two parts: the first three stanzas are the past experience and the last one is the lesson he learned. In the former stanzas uses a lot of images to give the figurative and literal meaning. For instance, as I mentioned in the beginning the color and the setting allude the resentment. And the season is winter for the starving sod and the fallen from the grey ash. The speakerˇ¦s mood and the relationship between the two can be guessed from the image of the womanˇ¦s deadest power of smile. He also compares the grin of an ominous bird a-wing.
The scenery the speaker gives is all based on the memory. We often consider the description of a scene in terms of visual images. However, Hardy shows how memory works in this failed love story. The memory added the color to the things around him. At last, he concluded the memory in a believed lesson that love deceives. The memory gives a fusion of image as the womanˇ¦s face( the eyes roving over, the smile of deadest power, a grin of bitterness.) and the sun which he thinks is God-curst and tree and so on. He used the imagery to interpret how sad he is. In my opinion it is an excellent poem!