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The Mother Mourns

Written by: Thomas Hardy | Biography
 | Quotes (33) |
 When mid-autumn's moan shook the night-time, 
 And sedges were horny, 
And summer's green wonderwork faltered 
 On leaze and in lane, 

I fared Yell'ham-Firs way, where dimly 
 Came wheeling around me 
Those phantoms obscure and insistent 
 That shadows unchain. 

Till airs from the needle-thicks brought me 
 A low lamentation, 
As 'twere of a tree-god disheartened, 
 Perplexed, or in pain. 

And, heeding, it awed me to gather 
 That Nature herself there 
Was breathing in aerie accents, 
 With dirgeful refrain, 

Weary plaint that Mankind, in these late days, 
 Had grieved her by holding 
Her ancient high fame of perfection 
 In doubt and disdain . . . 

- "I had not proposed me a Creature 
 (She soughed) so excelling 
All else of my kingdom in compass 
 And brightness of brain 

"As to read my defects with a god-glance, 
 Uncover each vestige 
Of old inadvertence, annunciate 
 Each flaw and each stain! 

"My purpose went not to develop 
 Such insight in Earthland; 
Such potent appraisements affront me, 
 And sadden my reign! 

"Why loosened I olden control here 
 To mechanize skywards, 
Undeeming great scope could outshape in 
 A globe of such grain? 

"Man's mountings of mind-sight I checked not, 
 Till range of his vision 
Has topped my intent, and found blemish 
 Throughout my domain. 

"He holds as inept his own soul-shell - 
 My deftest achievement - 
Contemns me for fitful inventions 
 Ill-timed and inane: 

"No more sees my sun as a Sanct-shape, 
 My moon as the Night-queen, 
My stars as august and sublime ones 
 That influences rain: 

"Reckons gross and ignoble my teaching, 
 Immoral my story, 
My love-lights a lure, that my species 
 May gather and gain. 

"'Give me,' he has said, 'but the matter 
 And means the gods lot her, 
My brain could evolve a creation 
 More seemly, more sane.' 

- "If ever a naughtiness seized me 
 To woo adulation 
From creatures more keen than those crude ones 
 That first formed my train - 

"If inly a moment I murmured, 
 'The simple praise sweetly, 
But sweetlier the sage'--and did rashly 
 Man's vision unrein, 

"I rue it! . . . His guileless forerunners, 
 Whose brains I could blandish, 
To measure the deeps of my mysteries 
 Applied them in vain. 

"From them my waste aimings and futile 
 I subtly could cover; 
'Every best thing,' said they, 'to best purpose 
 Her powers preordain.' - 

"No more such! . . . My species are dwindling, 
 My forests grow barren, 
My popinjays fail from their tappings, 
 My larks from their strain. 

"My leopardine beauties are rarer, 
 My tusky ones vanish, 
My children have aped mine own slaughters 
 To quicken my wane. 

"Let me grow, then, but mildews and mandrakes, 
 And slimy distortions, 
Let nevermore things good and lovely 
 To me appertain; 

"For Reason is rank in my temples, 
 And Vision unruly, 
And chivalrous laud of my cunning 
 Is heard not again!"