Hardy's works take place in Wessex (named after the Anglo-Saxon kingdom which existed in the area). One of his distinctive achievements is to have captured the cultural atmosphere of rural Wessex in the golden epoch that existed just before the coming of the railways and the agricultural and industrial revolutions that were to change the English countryside for ever.
His works are often deeply pessimistic and full of bitter irony, in sharp contrast to the prevalent Victorian optimism.
When the cloud shut down on the morning shine, And darkened the sun, I said, "So ended that joy of mine Years back begun."
But day continued its lustrous roll In upper air; And did my late irradiate soul Live on somewhere?