The entire opening chapter of The Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy, is devoted to a lengthy description of Egdon Heath, the setting of the novel.
Hardy said of the heath that it could “retard the dawn, sadden noon…and intensify the opacity of a moonless midnight to a cause of shaking and dread” It is also inferred that the Heath itself creates the darkness.. “the heath exhaling darkness as rapidly as the heavens precipitated it..
The heath is like the “ruler” of the story, it is the King, and it is more powerful than any person is. The heath demonstrates the idea that fate is more powerful than the desires of individuals"
Man cannot change Egdon Heath for it is indifferent to man. Hardy uses Egdon Heath as a portrayal of the larger scale of things, that is, the universe’s indifference to man.GE
Across the red sky two birds flying,
Flying with drooping wings.
Silent and solitary their ominous flight.
All day the triumphant sun with yellow banners
Warred and warred with the earth, and when she yielded
Stabbed her heart, gathered her blood in a chalice,
Spilling it over the evening sky.
When the dark plumaged birds go flying, flying,
Quiet lies the earth wrapt in her mournful shadow,
Her sightless eyes turned to the red sky
And the restlessly seeking birds ……Katherine Mansfield
Many layers of Watercolour on Arches Rough Paper…samples and more from the Hardy Collection below..