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Best Famous Thomas Hardy Poems

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by Thomas Hardy | |

The Darkling Thrush

I leant upon a coppice gate
     When Frost was spectre-gray,
And Winter's dregs made desolate
     The weakening eye of day.
The tangled bine-stems scored the sky Like strings of broken lyres, And all mankind that haunted nigh Had sought their household fires.
The land's sharp features seemed to be The Century's corpse outleant, His crypt the cloudy canopy, The wind his death-lament.
The ancient pulse of germ and birth Was shrunken hard and dry, And every spirit upon earth Seemed fevourless as I.
At once a voice arose among The bleak twigs overhead In a full-hearted evensong Of joy illimited; An aged thrush, frail, gaunt, and small, In blast-beruffled plume, Had chosen thus to fling his soul Upon the growing gloom.
So little cause for carolings Of such ecstatic sound Was written on terrestrial things Afar or nigh around, That I could think there trembled through His happy good-night air Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew And I was unaware.


by Thomas Hardy | |

Hap

If but some vengeful god would call to me
From up the sky, and laugh:  "Thou suffering thing,
Know that thy sorrow is my ecstasy,
That thy love's loss is my hate's profiting!"

Then would I bear it, clench myself, and die,
Steeled by the sense of ire unmerited;
Half-eased in that a Powerfuller than I
Had willed and meted me the tears I shed.
But not so.
How arrives it joy lies slain, And why unblooms the best hope ever sown? —Crass Casualty obstructs the sun and rain, And dicing Time for gladness casts a moan.
.
.
.
These purblind Doomsters had as readily strown Blisses about my pilgrimage as pain.


by Thomas Hardy | |

The Ruined Maid

"O 'Melia, my dear, this does everything crown!
Who could have supposed I should meet you in Town? 
And whence such fair garments, such prosperi-ty?"--
"O didn't you know I'd been ruined?" said she.
--"You left us in tatters, without shoes or socks, Tired of digging potatoes, and spudding up docks; And now you've gay bracelets and bright feathers three!"-- "Yes: that's how we dress when we're ruined," said she.
--"At home in the barton you said 'thee' and 'thou,' And 'thik oon,' and 'theäs oon,' and 't'other'; but now Your talking quite fits 'ee for high compa-ny!"-- "Some polish is gained with one's ruin," said she.
--"Your hands were like paws then, your face blue and bleak But now I'm bewitched by your delicate cheek, And your little gloves fit as on any la-dy!"-- "We never do work when we're ruined," said she.
--"You used to call home-life a hag-ridden dream, And you'd sigh, and you'd sock; but at present you seem To know not of megrims or melancho-ly!"-- "True.
One's pretty lively when ruined," said she.
"--I wish I had feathers, a fine sweeping gown, And a delicate face, and could strut about Town!"-- "My dear--a raw country girl, such as you be, Cannot quite expect that.
You ain't ruined," said she.


More great poems below...

by Thomas Hardy | |

The Voice

Woman much missed, how you call to me, call to me,
Saying that now you are not as you were
When you had changed from the one who was all to me,
But as at first, when our day was fair.
Can it be you that I hear? Let me view you, then, Standing as when I drew near to the town Where you would wait for me: yes, as I knew you then, Even to the original air-blue gown! Or is it only the breeze in its listlessness Travelling across the wet mead to me here, You being ever dissolved to wan wistlessness, Heard no more again far or near? Thus I; faltering forward, Leaves around me falling, Wind oozing thin through the thorn from norward, And the woman calling.


by Robert William Service | |

Hero Worship

 Said he: "You saw the Master clear;
By Rushy Pond alone he sat,
Serene and silent as a seer,
in tweedy coat and seedy hat.
you tell me you did not intrude, (Although his book was in your hand,) Upon his melancholy mood .
.
.
I do not understand.
"You did not tell him: 'I have come From o'er the sea to speak to you.
' You did not dare, your lips were dumb .
.
.
You thought a little zephyr blew From Rushy Pond a touch of him You'll cherish to your dying day, Perhaps with tears your eyes were dim .
.
.
And then - you went away.
"And down the years you will proclaim: 'O call me dullard, dub me dunce! But let this be my meed of fame: I looked on Thomas Hardy once.
Aye, by a stile I stood a span And with these eyes did plainly see A little, shrinking, shabby man .
.
.
But Oh a god to me!'" Said I: "'Tis true, I scarce dared look, yet he would have been kind, I'm sure; But though I clutched his precious book I feared to beg his signature.
Ah yes, my friend, I merit mirth.
You're bold, you have the right to laugh, And if Christ came again to earth You'd cadge his autograph.
"


by Robert William Service | |

Boon Soul

 Behold! I'm old; my hair is white;
My eighty years are in the offing,
And sitting by the fire to-night
I sip a grog to ease my coughing.
It's true I'm raucous as a rook, But feeling bibulously "bardy," These lines I'm scribbling in a book: The verse complete of Thomas Hardy.
Although to-day he's read by few, Him have I loved beyond all measure; So here to-night I riffle through His pages with the oldtime pleasure; And with this book upon my knee, (To-day so woefully neglected) I muse and think how soon I'll be Myself among the Great Rejected.
Yet as these lines with zest I write, Although the hour for me is tardy, I think: "Of all the world to-night 'Tis I alone am reading Hardy"; And now to me he seems so nigh I feel I commune with his spirit, And as none love him more than I, Thereby I gain a modest merit.
Oh Brother Thomas, glad I'll be, Though all the world may pass unheeding, If some greybeard con over me, As I to-night your rhymes are reading; Saying: "Old Bastard, you and I By sin are knit in mind and body.
.
.
.
" So ere to hit the hay I hie Your ghost I'll toast in midnight toddy.


by Thomas Hardy | |

A Broken Appointment

 You did not come,
And marching Time drew on, and wore me numb.
Yet less for loss of your dear presence there Than that I thus found lacking in your make That high compassion which can overbear Reluctance for pure loving kindness' sake Grieved I, when, as the hope-hour stroked its sum, You did not come.
You love me not, And love alone can lend you loyalty; --I know and knew it.
But, unto the store Of human deeds divine in all but name, Was it not worth a little hour or more To add yet this: Once you, a woman, came To soothe a time-torn man; even though it be You love me not.


by Thomas Hardy | |

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


by Thomas Hardy | |

A Thunderstorm In Town

 (A Reminiscence, 1893)

She wore a 'terra-cotta' dress,
And we stayed, because of the pelting storm,
Within the hansom's dry recess,
Though the horse had stopped; yea, motionless
 We sat on, snug and warm.
Then the downpour ceased, to my sharp sad pain, And the glass that had screened our forms before Flew up, and out she sprang to her door: I should have kissed her if the rain Had lasted a minute more.


by Thomas Hardy | |

The Man He Killed

 Had he and I but met 
By some old ancient inn, 
We should have set 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.


by Thomas Hardy | |

The Convergence Of The Twain

 (Lines on the loss of the "Titanic")

 I
 In a solitude of the sea
 Deep from human vanity,
And the Pride of Life that planned her, stilly couches she.
II Steel chambers, late the pyres Of her salamandrine fires, Cold currents thrid, and turn to rhythmic tidal lyres.
III Over the mirrors meant To glass the opulent The sea-worm crawls--grotesque, slimed, dumb, indifferent.
IV Jewels in joy designed To ravish the sensuous mind Lie lightless, all their sparkles bleared and black and blind.
V Dim moon-eyed fishes near Gaze at the gilded gear And query: "What does this vaingloriousness down here?".
.
.
VI Well: while was fashioning This creature of cleaving wing, The Immanent Will that stirs and urges everything VII Prepared a sinister mate For her--so gaily great-- A Shape of Ice, for the time fat and dissociate.
VIII And as the smart ship grew In stature, grace, and hue In shadowy silent distance grew the Iceberg too.
IX Alien they seemed to be: No mortal eye could see The intimate welding of their later history.
X Or sign that they were bent By paths coincident On being anon twin halves of one August event, XI Till the Spinner of the Years Said "Now!" And each one hears, And consummation comes, and jars two hemispheres.


by Thomas Hardy | |

Ah Are You Digging On My Grave?

 "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 to 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.
"


by Thomas Hardy | |

The Going of the Battery Wives. (Lament)

 I 

O it was sad enough, weak enough, mad enough - 
Light in their loving as soldiers can be - 
First to risk choosing them, leave alone losing them 
Now, in far battle, beyond the South Sea! .
.
.
II - Rain came down drenchingly; but we unblenchingly Trudged on beside them through mirk and through mire, They stepping steadily--only too readily! - Scarce as if stepping brought parting-time nigher.
III Great guns were gleaming there, living things seeming there, Cloaked in their tar-cloths, upmouthed to the night; Wheels wet and yellow from axle to felloe, Throats blank of sound, but prophetic to sight.
IV Gas-glimmers drearily, blearily, eerily Lit our pale faces outstretched for one kiss, While we stood prest to them, with a last quest to them Not to court perils that honour could miss.
V Sharp were those sighs of ours, blinded these eyes of ours, When at last moved away under the arch All we loved.
Aid for them each woman prayed for them, Treading back slowly the track of their march.
VI Someone said: "Nevermore will they come: evermore Are they now lost to us.
" O it was wrong! Though may be hard their ways, some Hand will guard their ways, Bear them through safely, in brief time or long.
VII - Yet, voices haunting us, daunting us, taunting us, Hint in the night-time when life beats are low Other and graver things .
.
.
Hold we to braver things, Wait we, in trust, what Time's fulness shall show.


by Thomas Hardy | |

Drummer Hodge

 They throw in Drummer Hodge, to rest
Uncoffined -- just as found:
His landmark is a kopje-crest
That breaks the veldt around:
And foreign constellations west
Each night above his mound.
Young Hodge the drummer never knew -- Fresh from his Wessex home -- The meaning of the broad Karoo, The Bush, the dusty loam, And why uprose to nightly view Strange stars amid the gloam.
Yet portion of that unknown plain Will Hodge for ever be; His homely Northern breast and brain Grow to some Southern tree, And strange-eyed constellations reign His stars eternally.


by Thomas Hardy | |

The House Of Hospitalities

 Here we broached the Christmas barrel,
 Pushed up the charred log-ends;
Here we sang the Christmas carol,
 And called in friends.
Time has tired me since we met here When the folk now dead were young, And the viands were outset here And quaint songs sung.
And the worm has bored the viol That used to lead the tune, Rust eaten out the dial That struck night's noon.
Now no Christmas brings in neighbours, And the New Year comes unlit; Where we sang the mole now labours, And spiders knit.
Yet at midnight if here walking, When the moon sheets wall and tree, I see forms of old time talking, Who smile on me.


by Thomas Hardy | |

Channel Firing

 That night your great guns, unawares,
Shook all our coffins as we lay,
And broke the chancel window-squares,
We thought it was the Judgement-day

And sat upright.
While drearisome Arose the howl of wakened hounds: The mouse let fall the altar-crumb, The worm drew back into the mounds, The glebe cow drooled.
Till God cried, "No; It's gunnery practice out at sea Just as before you went below; The world is as it used to be: "All nations striving strong to make Red war yet redder.
Mad as hatters They do no more for Christés sake Than you who are helpless in such matters.
"That this is not the judgment-hour For some of them's a blessed thing, For if it were they'd have to scour Hell's floor for so much threatening.
.
.
.
"Ha, ha.
It will be warmer when I blow the trumpet (if indeed I ever do; for you are men, And rest eternal sorely need).
" So down we lay again.
"I wonder, Will the world ever saner be," Said one, "than when He sent us under In our indifferent century!" And many a skeleton shook his head.
"Instead of preaching forty year," My neighbour Parson Thirdly said, "I wish I had stuck to pipes and beer.
" Again the guns disturbed the hour, Roaring their readiness to avenge, As far inland as Stourton Tower, And Camelot, and starlit Stonehenge.


by Thomas Hardy | |

An Autumn Rain-Scene

 There trudges one to a merry-making 
With sturdy swing, 
On whom the rain comes down.
To fetch the saving medicament Is another bent, On whom the rain comes down.
One slowly drives his herd to the stall Ere ill befall, On whom the rain comes down.
This bears his missives of life and death With quickening breath, On whom the rain comes down.
One watches for signals of wreck or war From the hill afar, On whom the rain comes down.
No care if he gain a shelter or none, Unhired moves on, On whom the rain comes down.
And another knows nought of its chilling fall Upon him aat all, On whom the rain comes down.


by Thomas Hardy | |

Neutral Tones

 WE stood by a pond that winter day,
And the sun was white, as though chidden of God,
And a few leaves lay on the starving sod,
--They had fallen from an ash, and were gray.
Your eyes on me were as eyes that rove Over tedious riddles solved years ago; And some words played between us to and fro-- On which lost the more by our love.
The smile on your mouth was the deadest thing Alive enough to have strength to die; And a grin of bitterness swept thereby Like an ominous bird a-wing.
.
.
.
Since then, keen lessons that love deceives, And wrings with wrong, have shaped to me Your face, and the God-curst sun, and a tree, And a pond edged with grayish leaves.


by Thomas Hardy | |

The Going

 Why did you give no hint that night
That quickly after the morrow's dawn,
And calmly, as if indifferent quite,
You would close your term here, up and be gone
 Where I could not follow
 With wing of swallow
To gain one glimpse of you ever anon!

 Never to bid good-bye
 Or lip me the softest call,
Or utter a wish for a word, while I
Saw morning harden upon the wall,
 Unmoved, unknowing
 That your great going
Had place that moment, and altered all.
Why do you make me leave the house And think for a breath it is you I see At the end of the alley of bending boughs Where so often at dusk you used to be; Till in darkening dankness The yawning blankness Of the perspective sickens me! You were she who abode By those red-veined rocks far West, You were the swan-necked one who rode Along the beetling Beeny Crest, And, reining nigh me, Would muse and eye me, While Life unrolled us its very best.
Why, then, latterly did we not speak, Did we not think of those days long dead, And ere your vanishing strive to seek That time's renewal? We might have said, "In this bright spring weather We'll visit together Those places that once we visited.
" Well, well! All's past amend, Unchangeable.
It must go.
I seem but a dead man held on end To sink down soon.
.
.
.
O you could not know That such swift fleeing No soul foreseeing-- Not even I--would undo me so!


by Thomas Hardy | |

The Oxen

 Christmas Eve, and twelve of the clock.
"Now they are all on their knees," An elder said as we sat in a flock By the embers in hearthside ease.
We pictured the meek mild creatures where They dwelt in their strawy pen, Nor did it occur to one of us there To doubt they were kneeling then.
So fair a fancy few would weave In these years! Yet, I feel, If someone said on Christmas Eve, "Come; see the oxen kneel, "In the lonely barton by yonder coomb Our childhood used to know," I should go with him in the gloom, Hoping it might be so.


by Thomas Hardy | |

An August Midnight

 I 

A shaded lamp and a waving blind, 
And the beat of a clock from a distant floor: 
On this scene enter--winged, horned, and spined - 
A longlegs, a moth, and a dumbledore; 
While 'mid my page there idly stands 
A sleepy fly, that rubs its hands .
.
.
II Thus meet we five, in this still place, At this point of time, at this point in space.
- My guests parade my new-penned ink, Or bang at the lamp-glass, whirl, and sink.
"God's humblest, they!" I muse.
Yet why? They know Earth-secrets that know not I.


by Thomas Hardy | |

She At His Funeral

 THEY bear him to his resting-place--
In slow procession sweeping by;
I follow at a stranger's space;
His kindred they, his sweetheart I.
Unchanged my gown of garish dye, Though sable-sad is their attire; But they stand round with griefless eye, Whilst my regret consumes like fire!


by Thomas Hardy | |

Moments Of Vision

 That mirror 
Which makes of men a transparency, 
Who holds that mirror 
And bids us such a breast-bare spectacle see 
Of you and me?

That mirror 
Whose magic penetrates like a dart, 
Who lifts that mirror 
And throws our mind back on us, and our heart, 
until we start?

That mirror 
Works well in these night hours of ache; 
Why in that mirror 
Are tincts we never see ourselves once take 
When the world is awake?

That mirror 
Can test each mortal when unaware; 
Yea, that strange mirror 
May catch his last thoughts, whole life foul or fair, 
Glassing it -- where?


by Thomas Hardy | |

Afterwards

 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?"


by Thomas Hardy | |

Lines On The Loss Of The Titanic

 In a solitude of the sea
Deep from human vanity,
And the Pride of Life that planned her, stilly couches she.
Steel chambers, late the pyres Of her salamandrine fires, Cold currents thrid, and turn to rhythmic tidal lyres.
Over the mirrors meant To glass the opulent The sea-worm crawls -- grotesque, slimed, dumb, indifferent.
Jewels in joy designed To ravish the sensuous mind Lie lightless, all their sparkles bleared and black and blind.
Dim moon-eyed fishes near Gaze at the gilded gear And query: "What does this vaingloriousness down here?" .
.
.
Well: while was fashioning This creature of cleaving wing, The Immanent Will that stirs and urges everything Prepared a sinister mate For her -- so gaily great -- A Shape of Ice, for the time far and dissociate.
And as the smart ship grew In stature, grace, and hue, In shadowy silent distance grew the Iceberg too.
Alien they seemed to be; No mortal eye could see The intimate welding of their later history, Or sign that they were bent By paths coincident On being anon twin halves of one august event, Till the Spinner of the Years Said "Now!" And each one hears, And consummation comes, and jars two hemispheres.