Thomas Hardy, 1840-1928, has always been better known as the novelist who wrote books like Far from the Madding Crowd and Tess of the d’Urbervilles. However, he himself always claimed that he was primarily a poet who found it necessary to write novels to earn a living.
Where we made the fire, In the summer time, Of branch and briar On the hill to the sea I slowly climb Through winter mire, And scan and trace The forsaken place Quite readily.
Now a cold wind blows, And the grass is gray, But the spot still shows As a burnt circle - aye, And stick-ends, charred, Still strew the sward Whereon I stand, Last relic of the band Who came that day!
Yes, I am here Just as last year, And the sea breathes brine From its strange straight line Up hither, the same As when we four came. - But two have wandered far From this grassy rise Into urban roar Where no picnics are, And one - has shut her eyes For evermore.
When the Present has latched its postern behind my tremulous stay, And the May month flaps its glad green leaves like wings, Delicate-filmed as new-spun silk, will the neighbours say, “He was a man who used to notice such things.”
If it be in the dusk when, like an eyelid's soundless blink, The dewfall-hawk comes crossing the shades to alight Upon the wind-warped upland thorn, a gazer may think, “To him this must have been a familiar sight.”
If I pass during some nocturnal blackness, mothy and warm, When the hedgehog travels furtively over the lawn, One may say, “He strove that such innocent creatures should come to no harm, But he could do little for them; and now he is gone.”
If, when hearing that I have been stilled at last, they stand at the door, Watching the full-starred heavens that winter sees, Will this thought rise on those who will meet my face no more, “He was one who had an eye for such mysteries.”
And will any say when my bell of quittance is heard in the gloom And a crossing breeze cuts a pause in its outrollings, Till they rise again, as they were a new bell's boom, “He hears it not now, but used to notice such things”
If it's ever spring again, Spring again, I shall go where went I when Down the moor-cock splashed, and hen, Seeing me not, amid their flounder, Standing with my arm around her; If it's ever spring again, Spring again, I shall go where went I then.
If it's ever summertime, Summertime, With the hay crop at the prime, And the cuckoos - two - in rhyme, As they used to be, or seemed to, We shall do as long we've dreamed to, If it's ever summertime, Summertime, With the hay, and bees achime.
THE FALLOW DEER AT THE LONELY HOUSE
One without looks in tonight Through the curtain-chink From the sheet of glistening white; One without looks in tonight As we sit and think By the fender-brink.
We do not discern those eyes Watching in the snow; Lit by lamps of rosy dyes We do not discern those eyes Wondering, aglow, Fourfooted, tiptoe.
BIRDS AT WINTER NIGHTFALL
Around the house the flakes fly faster, And all the berries now are gone From holly and cotoneaster Around the house. The flakes fly! - faster Shutting indoors that crumb-outcaster We used to see upon the lawn Around the house. The flakes fly faster, And all the berries now are gone!
”Ah, are you digging on my grave, My Loved one? - planting rue?” - “No: yesterday he went to wed One of the brightest wealth has bred. It cannot hurt her now, he said, That I should not be true.”
“Then who is digging on my grave? My nearest dearest kin?” “Ah, no: they sit and think, What use! What good will planting flowers produce? No tendance of her mound can loose Her spirit from Death’s gin.”
“But someone digs upon my grave? My enemy? - prodding sly?” - “Nay, when she heard you had passed the Gate That shuts on all flesh soon or late, She thought you no more worth her hate, And cares not where you lie.”
“Then, who is digging on my grave? Say, since I have not guessed!” - “O it is I, my mistress dear, Your little dog, who still lives near, And much I hope my movements here Have not disturbed your rest?”
“Ah, yes! YOU dig upon my grave. . . Why flashed it not on me That one true heart was left behind! What feeling do we ever find To equal among human kind A dog’s fidelity!”
“Mistress, I dug upon your grave To bury a bone, in case I should be hungry near this spot When passing on my daily trot. I am sorry but I quite forgot It was your resting-place.”
THE FROZEN GREENHOUSE
"There was a frost Last night!" she said, "And the stove was forgot When we went to bed, And the greenhouse plants are frozen dead!"
By the breakfast blaze Blank-faced spoke she, Her scared young look Seeming to be The very symbol Of tragedy.
The frost is fiercer Than then today, As I pass the place Of her once dismay, But the greenhouse stands Warm, tight, and gay,
While she who grieved At the sad lot Of her pretty plants - Cold, iced, forgot - Herself is colder, And knows it not.