Hardy

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Contents

Introduction

Love

Misunderstandings 

War

Sons

Growing Old

Loving Kindness

Art 

Life

Sources 

 

 

 

Introduction

 

Thomas Hardy (1840-1928) was born in a village near Dorchester, England, and educated in local schools. He entered a firm specializing in ecclesiastical architecture, winning the Architectural Association prize for design in 1863. He began writing verse and essays in 1861. His first short story published in 1865. His first of many novels was published in 1871. In 1874 his novel Far from the Madding Crowd was a commercial success, allowing him to take up writing full time. In seeking to portray the reality of human relations in the Victorian era, he found his novels drew increasing charges of pessimism and immorality. After harsh criticism of Tess of the D'Urbervilles in 1891 and  Jude the Obscure in 1895, he gave up prose fiction and concentrated on his poetry. Wessex Poems appeared in 1898, followed by further books that brought his total of published poems to well over 900.

 

Hardy is a national poet who lived through an era of rapid change: the emergence of the theory of evolution, the rise of physical science and telecommunications, the decay of religion, growth of cities and pollution, decline of the rural way of life, the rise of socialism and communism, development of rapid forms of transport, mechanization and enlargement of war. Throughout this period, Hardy's poetry showed a humanistic attention to the basic, universal feelings and concerns of individual people, with only an occasional nod to theoretical matters such as Darwinism and relativity. He focused on life's triumphs and disappointments, its contradictions and ironies, against backdrops of rural and city life. Behind this facade he is conscious of a universe indifferent to human concerns. He suggests that people should grasp loving kindness towards each other as the solution to their ills rather than imaginary gods.

 

In Hardy's poems commonplace sights, events, and activities are combined with insight into human nature to create a new and lively experience for the reader, achieved by the skilful exploitation of a wide range of meters and verse structures. He is careful to use the rhythms and diction of common speech, which makes his poems very readable. He writes of his enjoyment of other people's art and of drinking, dancing and love. The last is the topic of a large number of his poems, and love and the relationships between the sexes clearly fascinated him. He recognizes that some relationships endure and are reflected on with pleasure, whereas others are painful and not to be pursued again ('kisses are caresome things'). In addition, as this was a period when women's ill-treatment and subjugation in society was giving way to movement towards equality, there is a bias in Hardy's poetry towards a new exploration of women's thoughts and feelings in relation to men. This aspect of his work gives him insight into the misunderstandings between the sexes, which are the subjects of several of his poems. 

 

Hardy has a great affection for the English countryside of Wiltshire and Dorset (Wessex), and also for the rural people living there. Not surprisingly, aging and death occur frequently as subjects for his poems, which often draw on rural images and rural dialect. His village characters struggling with a hard life offer a source of humor that offsets the indifference of nature to human struggles. To this he adds his own skill of humorous fantasy, as in his account of the origins of individual flowers in a churchyard (Sir or Madam).

 

Having observed the carnage of the Boer and First World Wars, Hardy draws attention to the suffering of men and their families. He points out the distortion of human values that forces men to kill each other, who in other circumstances would enjoy friendship. Although Hardy at one time considered entering the church, he came to reject  formal religion and gods and to treat them with irony, as when he points out the effect of 2,000 years of religion on the conduct to modern war.

 

A few examples of Hardy's extensive range of poems follow.

 


Love

 

 

1  After a Romantic Day

 

   The railway bore him through

      An earthen cutting out from a city:

   There was no scope for view,

Though the frail light shed by a slim young moon

       Fell like a friendly tune.

 

      Fell like a liquid ditty,

And the blank lack of any charm

      Of landscape did no harm.

The bald steep cutting, rigid, rough,

      And moon-lit, was enough

For poetry of place: its weathered face

Formed a convenient sheet whereon

The visions of his mind were drawn.

 

 

 

2  Faithful Wilson

 

“I say she's handsome, by all laws

Of beauty, if wife ever was!"

Wilson insists thus, though each day

The years fret Fanny towards decay.

"She was once beauteous as a jewel,"

Hint friends; "but Time, of course, is cruel."

Still Wilson does not quite feel how,

Once fair, she can be different now.

(Partly from Strato of Sardis. )

 

 

3  His Heart—A Woman’s Dream

 

   At midnight, in the room where he lay dead

   Whom in his life I had never clearly read,

I thought if I could peer into that citadel

   His heart, I should at last know full and well

 

   What hereto had been known to him alone,

   Despite our long sit-out of years foreflown,

"And if," I said, "I do this for his memory's sake,

   It would not wound him, even if he could wake."

 

   So I bent over him.  He seemed to smile

   With a calm confidence the whole long while

That I, withdrawing his heart, held it and, bit by bit,

   Perused the unguessed things found written on it.

 

   It was inscribed like a terrestrial sphere

   With quaint vermiculations close and clear—

His graving.  Had I known, would I have risked the stroke

   Its reading brought, and my own heart nigh broke!

 

   Yes, there at last, eyes opened, did I see

   His whole sincere symmetric history;

There were his truth, his simple singlemindedness,

   Strained, maybe, by time's storms, but there no less.

 

   There were the daily deeds from sun to sun

   In blindness, but good faith, that he had done;

There were regrets, at instances wherein he swerved

   (As he conceived) from cherishings I had deserved.

 

   There were old hours all figured down as bliss—

   Those spent with me—(how little had I thought this!)

There those when, at my absence, whether he slept or waked,

   (Though I knew not 'twas so!) his spirit ached.

 

   There that when we were severed, how day dulled

   Till time joined us anew, was chronicled:

And arguments and battlings in defence of me

   That heart recorded clearly and ruddily.

 

   I put it back, and left him as he lay

   While pierced the morning pink and then the gray

Into each dreary room and corridor around,

   Where I shall wait, but his step will not sound.

 

 

4  After a Journey

 

Hereto I come to interview a ghost;

   Whither, O whither will its whim now draw me?

Up the cliff, down, till I'm lonely, lost,

   And the unseen waters' soliloquies awe me.

Where you will next be there's no knowing,

   Facing round about me everywhere,

      With your nut-coloured hair,

And gray eyes, and rose-flush coming and going.

 

Yes:  I have re-entered your olden haunts at last;

   Through the years, through the dead scenes I have tracked you;

What have you now found to say of our past—

   Viewed across the dark space wherein I have lacked you?

Summer gave us sweets, but autumn wrought division?

   Things were not lastly as firstly well

      With us twain, you tell?

But all's closed now, despite Time's derision.

 

I see what you are doing:  you are leading me on

   To the spots we knew when we haunted here together,

The waterfall, above which the mist-bow shone

   At the then fair hour in the then fair weather,

And the cave just under, with a voice still so hollow

   That it seems to call out to me from forty years ago,

      When you were all aglow,

And not the thin ghost that I now frailly follow!

 

Ignorant of what there is flitting here to see,

   The waked birds preen and the seals flop lazily,

Soon you will have, Dear, to vanish from me,

   For the stars close their shutters and the dawn whitens hazily.

Trust me, I mind not, though Life lours,

   The bringing of me here; nay, bring me here again!

      I am just the same as when

Our days were a joy, and our paths through flowers.

Pentargan Bay

 

 

5  Song to Aurore 

 

We’ll not begin again to love,

      It only leads to pain;

The fire we now are master of

      Has seared us not in vain.

Any new step of yours I'm fain

      To hear of from afar,

And even in such may find a gain

      While lodged not where you are.

 

No: that must not be done anew

      Which has been done before;

I scarce could bear to seek, or view,

      Or clasp you any more!

Life is a labour, death is sore,

      And lonely living wrings;

But go your courses, sweet Aurore,

      Kisses are caresome things!

 

 

 

6  The Slow Nature

(An Incident from Froom Valley)

 

"Thy husband—poor, poor Heart!—is dead—

   Dead, out by Moreford Rise;

A bull escaped the barton-shed,

   Gored him, and there he lies!"

 

- "Ha, ha—go away!  'Tis a tale, methink,

   Thou joker Kit!" laughed she.

"I've known thee many a year, Kit Twink,

   And ever hast thou fooled me!"

 

—"But, Mistress Damon—I can swear

   Thy goodman John is dead!

And soon th'lt hear their feet who bear

   His body to his bed."

 

So unwontedly sad was the merry man's face—

   That face which had long deceived—

That she gazed and gazed; and then could trace

   The truth there; and she believed.

 

She laid a hand on the dresser-ledge,

   And scanned far Egdon-side;

And stood; and you heard the wind-swept sedge

   And the rippling Froom; till she cried:

 

"O my chamber's untidied, unmade my bed

   Though the day has begun to wear!

'What a slovenly hussif!' it will be said,

   When they all go up my stair!"

 

She disappeared; and the joker stood

   Depressed by his neighbour's doom,

And amazed that a wife struck to widowhood

   Thought first of her unkempt room.

 

But a fortnight thence she could take no food,

   And she pined in a slow decay;

While Kit soon lost his mournful mood

   And laughed in his ancient way.

1894.

 

 

Misunderstandings

 

 

7  Misconception

 

I busied myself to find a sure

      Snug hermitage

That should preserve my Love secure

      From the world's rage;

Where no unseemly saturnals,

   Or strident traffic-roars,

Or hum of intervolved cabals

   Should echo at her doors.

 

I laboured that the diurnal spin

      Of vanities

Should not contrive to suck her in

      By dark degrees,

And cunningly operate to blur

   Sweet teachings I had begun;

And then I went full-heart to her

   To expound the glad deeds done.

 

She looked at me, and said thereto

      With a pitying smile,

"And this is what has busied you

      So long a while?

O poor exhausted one, I see

   You have worn you old and thin

For naught!  Those moils you fear for me

   I find most pleasure in!"

 

 

 

8  The Husband’s View

 

"Can anything avail

Beldame, for my hid grief?—

Listen:  I'll tell the tale,

It may bring faint relief!—

 

"I came where I was not known,

In hope to flee my sin;

And walking forth alone

A young man said, 'Good e'en.'

 

"In gentle voice and true

He asked to marry me;

'You only—only you

Fulfil my dream!' said he.

 

"We married o' Monday morn,

In the month of hay and flowers;

My cares were nigh forsworn,

And perfect love was ours.

 

"But ere the days are long

Untimely fruit will show;

My Love keeps up his song,

Undreaming it is so.

 

"And I awake in the night,

And think of months gone by,

And of that cause of flight

Hidden from my Love's eye.

 

"Discovery borders near,

And then! . . . But something stirred?—

My husband—he is here!

Heaven—has he overheard?" -

 

"Yes; I have heard, sweet Nan;

I have known it all the time.

I am not a particular man;

Misfortunes are no crime:

 

"And what with our serious need

Of sons for soldiering,

That accident, indeed,

To maids, is a useful thing!"

 

 

9  A Beauty’s Soliloquy

       During her Honeymoon

 

Too late, too late! I did not know my fairness

      Would catch the world's keen eyes so!

How the men look at me! My radiant rareness

      I deemed not they would prize so!

 

That I was a peach for any man's possession

      Why did not some one say

Before I leased myself in an hour's obsession

      To this dull mate for aye!

 

His days are mine. I am one who cannot steal her

      Ahead of his plodding pace:

As he is, so am 1. One doomed to feel her

      A wasted form and face!

 

I was so blind! It did sometimes just strike me

      All girls were not as I.

But, dwelling much alone, how few were like me

      I could not well descry;

 

Till, at this Grand Hotel, all looks bend on me

      In homage as I pass

To take my seat at breakfast, dinner,—con me

      As poorly spoused, alas!

 

I was too young. I dwelt too much on duty:

      If I had guessed my powers

Where might have sailed this cargo of choice beauty

      In its unanchored hours!

 

Well, husband, poor plain man; I've lost life's battle!—

      Come—let them look at me.

O damn, don't show in your looks that I'm your chattel

      Quite so emphatically!

(In a London Hotel. 1892. )

 

 

 

War

 

10  Embarcation

 

Here, where Vespasian's legions struck the sands,

And Cerdic with his Saxons entered in,

And Henry's army leapt afloat to win

Convincing triumphs over neighbour lands,

 

Vaster battalions press for further strands,

To argue in the self-same bloody mode

Which this late age of thought, and pact, and code,

Still fails to mend.—Now deckward tramp the bands,

 

Yellow as autumn leaves, alive as spring;

And as each host draws out upon the sea

Beyond which lies the tragical To-be,

None dubious of the cause, none murmuring,

 

Wives, sisters, parents, wave white hands and smile,

As if they knew not that they weep the while.

(Southampton Docks:  October, 1899)

 

 

 

11  The Man He Killed

 

   "Had he and I but met

   By some old ancient inn,

We should have sat us down to wet

   Right many a nipperkin!

 

   "But ranged as infantry,

   And staring face to face,

I shot at him as he at me,

   And killed him in his place.

 

   "I shot him dead because—

   Because he was my foe,

Just so:  my foe of course he was;

   That's clear enough; although

 

   "He thought he'd 'list, perhaps,

   Off-hand like—just as I—

Was out of work—had sold his traps—

   No other reason why.

 

   "Yes; quaint and curious war is!

   You shoot a fellow down

You'd treat if met where any bar is,

   Or help to half-a-crown."

1902.

 

 

12  Christmas: 1924

 

“Peace upon earth!" was said. We sing it,

And pay a million priests to bring it.

After two thousand years of mass

We've got as far as poison-gas.

1924

 

 

Sons

 

 

13  The Son’s Portrait

 

I walked the streets of a market town,

         And came to a lumber-shop,

Which I had known ere I met the frown

         Of fate and fortune,

   And habit led me to stop.

 

In burrowing mid this chattel and that,

         High, low, or edgewise thrown,

I lit upon something lying flat─

         A fly-flecked portrait,

   Framed. 'Twas my dead son's own.

 

"That photo? ... A lady ─ I know not whence─

         Sold it me, Ma'am, one day,

With more. You can have it for eighteen­pence:

         The picture's nothing;

   It's but for the frame you pay."

 

He had given it her in their heyday shine,

         When she wedded him, long her wooer:

And then he was sent to the front-trench-line,

         And fell there fighting;

   And she took a new bridegroom to her.

 

I bought the gift she had held so light,

         And buried it as 'twere he.─

Well, well! Such things are trifling, quite,

         But when one's lonely

   How cruel they can be !

 

 

14  The Whitewashed Wall

Why does she turn in that shy soft way
         Whenever she stirs the fire,
And kiss to the chimney-corner wall,
         As if entranced to admire
Its whitewashed bareness more than the sight
         Of a rose in richest green?
I have known her long, but this raptured rite
         I never before have seen.

—Well, once when her son cast his shadow there,
         A friend took a pencil and drew him
Upon that flame-lit wall.  And the lines
         Had a lifelike semblance to him.
And there long stayed his familiar look;
         But one day, ere she knew,
The whitener came to cleanse the nook,
         And covered the face from view.

“Yes,” he said: “My brush goes on with a rush,
         And the draught is buried under;
When you have to whiten old cots and brighten,
         What else can you do, I wonder?”
But she knows he’s there.  And when she yearns
         For him, deep in the labouring night,
She sees him as close at hand, and turns
         To him under his sheet of white.

 

 

 

Growing Old

 

 

15  Shut Out that Moon

 

Close up the casement, draw the blind,

   Shut out that stealing moon,

She wears too much the guise she wore

   Before our lutes were strewn

With years-deep dust, and names we read

   On a white stone were hewn.

 

Step not out on the dew-dashed lawn

   To view the Lady's Chair,

Immense Orion's glittering form,

   The Less and Greater Bear:

Stay in; to such sights we were drawn

   When faded ones were fair.

 

Brush not the bough for midnight scents

   That come forth lingeringly,

And wake the same sweet sentiments

   They breathed to you and me

When living seemed a laugh, and love

   All it was said to be.

 

Within the common lamp-lit room

   Prison my eyes and thought;

Let dingy details crudely loom,

   Mechanic speech be wrought:

Too fragrant was Life's early bloom,

   Too tart the fruit it brought!

1904.

 

 

16  Seventy-Four and Twenty

 

Here goes a man of seventy-four,

Who sees not what life means for him,

And here another in years a score

Who reads its very figure and trim.

 

The one who shall walk to-day with me

Is not the youth who gazes far,

But the breezy wight who cannot see

What Earth's ingrained conditions are.

 

 

 

17  The Orphaned Old Maid

 

I wanted to marry, but father said, "No—

'Tis weakness in women to give themselves so;

If you care for your freedom you'll listen to me,

Make a spouse in your pocket, and let the men be."

 

I spake on't again and again:  father cried,

"Why—if you go husbanding, where shall I bide?

For never a home's for me elsewhere than here!"

And I yielded; for father had ever been dear.

 

But now father's gone, and I feel growing old,

And I'm lonely and poor in this house on the wold,

And my sweetheart that was found a partner elsewhere,

And nobody flings me a thought or a care.

 

 

 

Loving Kindness

 

 

18  Snow in the Suburbs

 

            Every branch big with it,

            Bent every twig with it;

      Every fork like a white web-foot;

      Every street and pavement mute:

Some flakes have lost their way, and grope back upward, when

Meeting those meandering down they turn and descend again.

      The palings are glued together like a wall,

      And there is no waft of wind with the fleecy fall.

 

            A sparrow enters the tree,

            Whereon immediately

      A snow-lump thrice his own slight size

      Descends on him and showers his head and eyes,

            And overturns him,

            And near inurns him,

      And lights on a nether twig, when its brush

Starts off a volley of other lodging lumps with a rush.

 

      The steps are a blanched slope,

      Up which, with feeble hope,

      A black cat comes, wide-eyed and thin;

            And we take him in.

 

 

19  A Plaint to Man

 

When you slowly emerged from the den of Time,

And gained percipience as you grew,

And fleshed you fair out of shapeless slime,

 

Wherefore, O Man, did there come to you

The unhappy need of creating me —

A form like your own — for praying to?

 

My Virtue, power, utility,

Within my maker must all abide,

Since none in myself can ever be,

 

One thin as a shape on a lantern-slide

Shown forth in the dark upon some dim sheet,

And by none but its showman vivified.

 

“Such a forced device,” you may say, “is meet

For easing a loaded heart at whiles:

Man needs to conceive of a mercy-seat

 

Somewhere above the gloomy aisles

Of this wailful world, or he could not bear

The irk no local hope beguiles.”

 

— But since I was framed in your first despair

The doing without me has had no play

In the minds of men when shadows scare;

 

And now that I dwindle day by day

Beneath the deicide eyes of seers

In a light that will not let me stay,

 

And to-morrow the whole of me disappears,

The truth should be told, and the fact be faced

That had best been faced in earlier years:

 

The fact of life with dependence placed

On the human heart's resource alone,

In brotherhood bonded close and graced

 

With loving-kindness fully blown,

And visioned help unsought, unknown.

1909-10

 

 

Art

 

 

20  To Shakespeare—After Three Hundred Years

 

   Bright baffling Soul, least capturable of themes,

   Thou, who display'dst a life of commonplace,

   Leaving no intimate word or personal trace

   Of high design outside the artistry

      Of thy penned dreams,

Still shalt remain at heart unread eternally.

 

 . . .

 

   So, like a strange bright bird we sometimes find

   To mingle with the barn-door brood awhile,

   Then vanish from their homely domicile—

   Into man's poesy, we wot not whence,

      Flew thy strange mind,

Lodged there a radiant guest, and sped for ever thence.

1916.

 

 

21  In a Museum

 

I

Here's the mould of a musical bird long passed from light,

Which over the earth before man came was winging;

There's a contralto voice I heard last night,

That lodges in me still with its sweet singing.

 

II

Such a dream is Time that the coo of this ancient bird

Has perished not, but is blent, or will be blending

Mid visionless wilds of space with the voice that I heard,

In the full-fugued song of the universe unending.

Exeter

.

 

 

22  At the Railway Station, Upway

 

   “There is not much that I can do,

For I’ve no money that’s quite my own!”

   Spoke up the pitying child—

A little boy with a violin

At the station before the train came in,—

“But I can play my fiddle to you,

And a nice one ‘tis, and good in tone!”

 

   The man in the handcuffs smiled;

The constable looked, and he smiled, too,

   As the fiddle began to twang;

And the man in the handcuffs suddenly sang

            Uproariously:

            “This life so free

             Is the thing for me!”

And the constable smiled, and said no word,

As if unconscious of what he heard;

And so they went on till the train came in—

The convict, and boy with the violin.

 

 

 

Life

 

 

23  Great Things

 

Sweet cyder is a great thing,

   A great thing to me,

Spinning down to Weymouth town

   By Ridgway thirstily,

And maid and mistress summoning

   Who tend the hostelry:

O cyder is a great thing,

   A great thing to me!

 

The dance it is a great thing,

   A great thing to me,

With candles lit and partners fit

   For night-long revelry;

And going home when day-dawning

   Peeps pale upon the lea:

O dancing is a great thing,

   A great thing to me!

 

Love is, yea, a great thing,

   A great thing to me,

When, having drawn across the lawn

   In darkness silently,

A figure flits like one a-wing

   Out from the nearest tree:

O love is, yes, a great thing,

   A great thing to me!

 

Will these be always great things,

   Great things to me? . . .

Let it befall that One will call,

   "Soul, I have need of thee:"

What then?  Joy-jaunts, impassioned flings,

   Love, and its ecstasy,

Will always have been great things,

   Great things to me!

 

 

 

24  Heredity

 

I am the family face;

Flesh perishes, I live on,

Projecting trait and trace

Through time to times anon,

And leaping from place to place

Over oblivion.

 

The years-heired feature that can

In curve and voice and eye

Despise the human span

Of durance—that is I;

The eternal thing in man,

That heeds no call to die.

 

 

 

25  A Young Man’s Exhortation

 

         Call off your eyes from care

By some determined deftness; put forth joys

Dear as excess without the core that cloys,

         And charm Life’s lourings fair.

 

         Exalt and crown the hour

That girdles us, and fill it full with glee,

Blind glee, excelling aught could ever be

         Were heedfulness in power.

 

         Send up such touching strains

That limitless recruits from Fancy’s pack

Shall rush upon your tongue, and tender back

         All that your soul contains.

 

         For what do we know best?

That a fresh love-leaf crumpled soon will dry,

And that men moment after moment die,

         Of all scope dispossest.

 

         If I have seen one thing

It is the passing preciousness of dreams;

That aspects are within us; and who seems

         Most kingly is the King.

(1867: Westbourne Park Villas)

 

 

26  The Harbour Bridge

 

From here, the quay, one looks above to mark

The bridge across the harbour, hanging dark

Against the day's-end sky, fair-green in glow

Over and under the middle archway's bow:

It draws its skeleton where the sun has set,

Yea, clear from cutwater to parapet;

On which mild glow, too, lines of rope and spar

            Trace themselves black as char.

 

Down here in shade we hear the painters shift

Against the bollards with a drowsy lift,

As moved by the incoming stealthy tide.

High up across the bridge the burghers glide

As cut black-paper portraits hastening on

In conversation none knows what upon:

Their sharp-edged lips move quickly word by word

            To speech that is not heard.

 

There trails the dreamful girl, who leans and stops,

There presses the practical woman to the shops,            .

There is a sailor, meeting his wife with a start,

And we, drawn nearer, judge they are keeping apart.

Both pause. She says: ''I've looked for you. I thought

We'd make it up." Then no words can be caught.

At last: "Won't you come home?" She moves still nigher:

            “‘Tis comfortable, with a fire.”

 

"No," he says gloomily.  “And, anyhow,

I can't give up the other woman now:

You should have talked like that in former days,

When I was last home.”  They go different ways ..

And the west dims, and yellow lamplights shine:

And soon above, like lamps more opaline,

White stars ghost forth, that care not for men's wives,

            Or any other lives.

(Weymouth. )

 

 

 

27  A Private Man on Public Men

 

When my contemporaries were driving

Their coach through Life with strain and striving,

And raking riches in to heaps,

And ably pleading in the Courts

With smart rejoinders and retorts,

Or where the Senate nightly keeps

Its vigils, till their fames were fanned

By rumour's tongue throughout the land,

I lived in quiet, screened, unknown,

Pondering upon some stick or stone,

Or news of some rare book or bird

Latterly bought, or seen, or heard,

Not wishing ever to set eyes on

The surging crowd beyond the horizon,

Tasting years of moderate gladness

Mellowed by sundry days of sadness,

Shut from the noise of the world without,

Hearing but dimly its rush and rout,

Unenvying those amid its roar,

Little endowed, not wanting more.

 

 

 

28  Voices from Things Growing in a Churchyard

 

These flowers are I, poor Fanny Hurd,

            Sir or Madam,

A little girl here sepultured.

Once I flit-fluttered like a bird

Above the grass, as now I wave

In daisy shapes above my grave,

            All day cheerily,

            All night eerily!

 

—I am one Bachelor Bowring, “Gent,”

             Sir or Madam;

In shingled oak my bones were pent;

Hence more than a hundred years I spent

In my feat of change from a coffin-thrall

To a dancer in green as leaves on a wall,

            All day cheerily,

            All night eerily!

 

—I, these berries of juice and gloss,

            Sir or Madam,

Am clean forgotten as Thomas Voss;

Thin-urned, I have burrowed away from the moss

That covers my sod, and have entered this yew,

And turned to clusters ruddy of view,

            All day cheerily,

            All night eerily!

 

—The Lady Gertrude, proud, high-bred,

            Sir or Madam,

Am I—this laurel that shades your head;

Into its veins I have stilly sped,

And made them of me; and my leaves now shine,

As did my satins superfine,

             All day cheerily,

            All night eerily!

 

—I, who as innocent withwind climb,

            Sir or Madam.

Am one Eve Greensleeves, in olden time

Kissed by men from many a clime,

Beneath sun, stars, in blaze, in breeze,

As now by glowworms and by bees,

            All day cheerily,

            All night eerily!

 

—I’m old Squire Audeley Grey, who grew,

            Sir or Madam,

Aweary of life, and in scorn withdrew;

Till anon I clambered up anew

As ivy-green, when my ache was stayed,

And in that attire I have longtime gayed

            All day cheerily,

            All night eerily!

 

—And so they breathe, these masks, to each

            Sir or Madam

Who lingers there, and their lively speech

Affords an interpreter much to teach,

As their murmurous accents seem to come

Thence hitheraround in a radiant hum,

            All day cheerily,

            All night eerily!

 

 

 

Sources

 

6  Wessex Poems and Other Verses, by Thomas Hardy. Macmillan and Co., Limited, London, England, 1908. (Originally published by Harper, New York and London, 1898)

 

10  Poems of the Past and Present (Second Edition), by Thomas Hardy. Harper and Brothers, London and New York, 1902.

 

7, 8, 11, 15, 17  Times Laughingstocks and Other Verses, by Thomas Hardy. Macmillan and Company, Limited, 1909.

 

4, 16, 19   Satires of Circumstance, by Thomas Hardy. Macmillan and Co., Limited, London, England, 1914.

 

3, 20, 21, 23, 24  Moments of Vision, by Thomas Hardy. Macmillan and Company, London, 1917.

 

1, 14, 22, 25, 28  Late Lyrics and Earlier, by Thomas Hardy. Macmillan and Co., Limited, London, England, 1922.

 

9, 18, 26  Human Shows Far Phantasies, by Thomas Hardy. Macmillan Company, New York,1925.

 

2, 5, 12, 13, 27  Winter Words, by Thomas Hardy. Macmillan and Company, New York, 1928.

 

Many of Hardy's poems are available on-line at Project Gutenberg. Others can be found at Questia.