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My Cicely

Written by: Thomas Hardy | Biography
 | Quotes (33) |
 "ALIVE?"--And I leapt in my wonder,
Was faint of my joyance,
And grasses and grove shone in garments
Of glory to me.
"She lives, in a plenteous well-being, To-day as aforehand; The dead bore the name--though a rare one-- The name that bore she.
" She lived .
.
.
I, afar in the city Of frenzy-led factions, Had squandered green years and maturer In bowing the knee To Baals illusive and specious, Till chance had there voiced me That one I loved vainly in nonage Had ceased her to be.
The passion the planets had scowled on, And change had let dwindle, Her death-rumor smartly relifted To full apogee.
I mounted a steed in the dawning With acheful remembrance, And made for the ancient West Highway To far Exonb'ry.
Passing heaths, and the House of Long Sieging, I neared the thin steeple That tops the fair fane of Poore's olden Episcopal see; And, changing anew my onbearer, I traversed the downland Whereon the bleak hill-graves of Chieftains Bulge barren of tree; And still sadly onward I followed That Highway the Icen, Which trails its pale ribbon down Wessex O'er lynchet and lea.
Along through the Stour-bordered Forum, Where Legions had wayfared, And where the slow river upglasses Its green canopy, And by Weatherbury Castle, and therence Through Casterbridge, bore I, To tomb her whose light, in my deeming, Extinguished had He.
No highwayman's trot blew the night-wind To me so life-weary, But only the creak of the gibbets Or wagoners' jee.
Triple-ramparted Maidon gloomed grayly Above me from southward, And north the hill-fortress of Eggar, And square Pummerie.
The Nine-Pillared Cromlech, the Bride-streams, The Axe, and the Otter I passed, to the gate of the city Where Exe scents the sea; Till, spent, in the graveacre pausing, I learnt 'twas not my Love To whom Mother Church had just murmured A last lullaby.
--"Then, where dwells the Canon's kinswoman, My friend of aforetime?"-- ('Twas hard to repress my heart-heavings And new ecstasy.
) "She wedded.
"--"Ah!"--"Wedded beneath her-- She keeps the stage-hostel Ten miles hence, beside the great Highway-- The famed Lions-Three.
"Her spouse was her lackey--no option 'Twixt wedlock and worse things; A lapse over-sad for a lady Of her pedigree!" I shuddered, said nothing, and wandered To shades of green laurel: Too ghastly had grown those first tidings So brightsome of blee! For, on my ride hither, I'd halted Awhile at the Lions, And her--her whose name had once opened My heart as a key-- I'd looked on, unknowing, and witnessed Her jests with the tapsters, Her liquor-fired face, her thick accents In naming her fee.
"O God, why this hocus satiric!" I cried in my anguish: "O once Loved, of fair Unforgotten-- That Thing--meant it thee! "Inurned and at peace, lost but sainted, Where grief I could compass; Depraved--'tis for Christ's poor dependent A cruel decree!" I backed on the Highway; but passed not The hostel.
Within there Too mocking to Love's re-expression Was Time's repartee! Uptracking where Legions had wayfared, By cromlechs unstoried, And lynchets, and sepultured Chieftains, In self-colloquy, A feeling stirred in me and strengthened That she was not my Love, But she of the garth, who lay rapt in Her long reverie.
And thence till to-day I persuade me That this was the true one; That Death stole intact her young dearness And innocency.
Frail-witted, illuded they call me; I may be.
'Tis better To dream than to own the debasement Of sweet Cicely.
Moreover I rate it unseemly To hold that kind Heaven Could work such device--to her ruin And my misery.
So, lest I disturb my choice vision, I shun the West Highway, Even now, when the knaps ring with rhythms From blackbird and bee; And feel that with slumber half-conscious She rests in the church-hay, Her spirit unsoiled as in youth-time When lovers were we.



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