Ah, Are you Digging my Grave Summary by Thomas Hardy

Ah, Are you Digging my Grave Summary: This poem dramatizes the conflict between a dead woman and all of the people she imagines, or hopes, that would be digging on her grave, now that she has died.

It starts with the woman wondering if her husband is digging near her grave to plant flowers. She then remembers that just one day ago, her husband married a woman who came from money.

He justifies that his deceased wife won’t be hurt by him having a new lover because his wife is dead. The dead woman asks if a close relative is digging on her grave. She pictures her relatives sitting and thinking “There’s no reason to plant flowers or keep up her gravesite because it won’t release her from the gripping finality of death.”

The woman proceeds to ask if it is her enemy digging at her grave. She thinks that her enemy is just defacing her gravesite to restate her everlasting hatred toward the woman.

However, she rules that out too, because when she “passed the Gate That shuts on all flesh sooner or later”, her enemy decided that the dead woman was no longer worth her hatred, and didn’t even care where she was buried at. 

Inline 19, the dead woman finally gives up and wants to know, since she hasn’t guessed. Then, her dog replies to his dear mistress that it is him, her little dog, who still lives nearby. The dog says that he hopes that his digging hasn’t bothered her.

The woman finally realizes that it’s her dog and wonders why she didn’t realize it earlier. She praises the dog, saying that he was the only one she left behind that stayed true and remembered her. 

She exclaims that there isn’t any other feeling among other humans that are better than the faithfulness of a good dog. That turns out to be quite ironic because the dog states that the only reason that he dug on her grave was  “To bury a bone, in case [he] should be hungry near this spot When passing on [his] daily trot”.

The dog apologizes because he completely forgot that his mistress was buried there.

In the second line of the poem when the woman asks if the one digging is her "loved one? - planting rue?" the word 'rue' is a double entendre.

Rue is a shrub that symbolizes sorrow, so the corpse is really asking her loved one both if he is planting flowers on her grave and if he is feeling sorrow about her death. When the woman's kin say "No tendance of her mound can loose/ Her spirit from Death's gin" they are referring to a gin as in a type of snare or trap used to catch animals.

There is synecdoche in the phrases "the brightest wealth has bred" in the first stanza and "one true heart was left behind" in the fifth stanza.

Ah, Are you Digging my Grave Summary

This poem also uses a lot of ironies. The woman-corpse wants to believe that her former acquaintances remember her and are affected by her death, but she continually finds out that the opposite is true: they have little concern for her now that she is dead.

Hardy uses personification with the corpse and the dog. He gives them human traits like the ability to speak and feel emotions. When the dog is burying a bone on his dead mistress's grave, it symbolizes how the people she knew while she was alive now view her. To them, she is just a bunch of bones buried in the ground, and no longer of any importance.

The central theme of this poem is that no love or hate outlasts death. There is a lot of disappointment in the poem, depicting death and the afterlife as tragic things.

The black humor and irony reveal a sad message: the dead woman is forgotten and eternally lonely. The poem is also satiric, mocking the sentimentalism of continual devotion to the dead.

I feel that it is saying nobody cares about you after you die because it is not the body in the ground that matters but what you did while you were living.
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