Summary and Analysis of A Broken Appointment by Thomas Hardy

“A Broken Appointment” by Thomas Hardy delineates an upsetting and desperate circumstance faced by a man who wanted somebody to love him. A poem is tremendously honest in its expression. It is a poem that readers can relate to. Most of us have experienced the pain of getting rejected by someone we loved.
Thomas Hardy was a nineteenth century poet and novelist. He was born in England in 1840. He was a realist and was greatly influenced by Romanticists, especially William Wordsworth.

“A Broken Appointment” was one the well-known poems of Thomas Hardy. The poem is about a woman for whom he strongly felt but she did not return his love. The poem addresses the woman who has left him and the fact that she does not love him is what upsets him the most. The poem is about realities and rejections that surround romantic love.

Stanza 1: The poet begins the poem with stark words to express the grief about his love who ‘did not come.’ In the lines that follow, he expresses his thoughts as he waits for the woman who does not love him. The first line, ‘you did not come’ is a hard truth that the poet begins with. The poem does not talk about any particular appointment but their relationship in general. He describes how long he has waited for her. Eventually, the love has worn him ‘numb’ and he has realized that his woman would not return. The woman lacks the ‘high compassion which can overbear reluctance for pure loving kindness’ sake.’ This revelation was found out by the poet later. He was grieved at the discovery and as the hour of his hopeful wait ended, he realized that his love did not come. The first stanza shows the woman lack of interest towards the poet.

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Stanza 2: The second stanza too begins with a solid line, ‘you love not me.’ The next line, ‘and love alone can lend you loyalty’ can mean that the woman loved someone else but not the poet. Therefore, she was not loyal. The poet ‘knew it.’ Even though the woman did not return his love, the poet wishes that she could have shown some kind of love to him as a friend. He calls himself a ‘time-torn man’ meaning having a bad time. This was the time when he was in need of someone. This poem can also render references to the second marriage of Hardy to a woman who was much younger to him. Therefore, in the final lines, we find him wanting someone to ‘soothe a time-torn man’ even if the person is not in love with him. This shows that Hardy was in desperate need of a friend, a support even if it was not romantic.

Both the stanzas begin with and end with the same lines, ‘you did not come.’ The lines depict the whole meaning and theme of the poem. It also expresses the poet’s acceptance of the whole situation.


The poem has two stanzas each consisting of eight lines. The first and last lines of each stanza ate identical short four syllable phrases, while the others are ten syllables long. The rhyme scheme of the poem is aabcaa eedfdfee. ‘You did not come’ and ‘You love not me’ are in trochaic feet while the other lines are in iambic pentameter.

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The first stanza of ‘A Broken Appointment’ begins and ends with the same lines. In the second stanza, the phrase changes to ‘you love not me.’ He highlights these particular lines by using different meter and cadence.

‘Love alone can lend you loyalty’ is a fine example of alliteration in the poem, “A Broken Appointment.’
Other examples of alliteration are ‘less for loss’, ‘I know and knew it’, ‘deeds divine’, ‘time-torn.’

The poem, ‘A Broken Appointment’ is centered on the poet’s sadness over the uncertainties and selfish nature of love and trust.