Thomas Hardy.

Satires of Circumstance, lyrics and reveries with miscellaneous pieces online

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Transcribed from the 1919 Macmillan and Co. edition by David Price, email
[email protected]

[Picture: Book cover]


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_First Edition_ 1914
_Reprinted_ 1915, 1919
_Pocket Edition_ 1919

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In Front of the Landscape 3
Channel Firing 7
The Convergence of the Twain 9
The Ghost of the Past 12
After the Visit 14
To Meet, or Otherwise 16
The Difference 18
The Sun on the Bookcase 19
“When I set out for Lyonnesse” 20
A Thunderstorm in Town 21
The Torn Letter 22
Beyond the Last Lamp 25
The Face at the Casement 27
Lost Love 30
“My spirit will not haunt the mound” 31
Wessex Heights 32
In Death divided 35
The Place on the Map 37
Where the Picnic was 39
The Schreckhorn 41
A Singer asleep 42
A Plaint to Man 45
God’s Funeral 47
Spectres that grieve 52
“Ah, are you digging on my grave?” 54
I. At Tea 59
II. In Church 60
III. By her Aunt’s Grave 61
IV. In the Room of the Bride-elect 62
V. At the Watering-place 63
VI. In the Cemetery 64
VII. Outside the Window 65
VIII. In the Study 66
IX. At the Altar-rail 67
X. In the Nuptial Chamber 68
XI. In the Restaurant 69
XII. At the Draper’s 70
XIII. On the Death-bed 71
XIV. Over the Coffin 72
XV. In the Moonlight 73
LYRICS AND REVERIES (_continued_)—
Self-unconscious 77
The Discovery 80
Tolerance 81
Before and after Summer 82
At Day-close in November 83
The Year’s Awakening 84
Under the Waterfall 85
The Spell of the Rose 88
St. Launce’s revisited 90
POEMS OF 1912–13–
The Going 95
Your Last Drive 97
The Walk 99
Rain on a Grace 100
“I found her out there” 102
Without Ceremony 104
Lament 105
The Haunter 107
The Voice 109
His Visitor 110
A Circular 112
A Dream or No 113
After a Journey 115
A Death-ray recalled 117
Beeny Cliff 119
At Castle Boterel 121
Places 123
The Phantom Horsewoman 125
The Wistful Lady 129
The Woman in the Rye 131
The Cheval-Glass 132
The Re-enactment 134
Her Secret 140
“She charged me” 141
The Newcomer’s Wife 142
A Conversation at Dawn 143
A King’s Soliloquy 152
The Coronation 154
Aquae Sulis 157
Seventy-four and Twenty 160
The Elopement 161
“I rose up as my custom is” 163
A Week 165
Had you wept 167
Bereft, she thinks she dreams 169
In the British Museum 170
In the Servants’ Quarters 172
The Obliterate Tomb 175
“Regret not me” 183
The Recalcitrants 185
Starlings on the Roof 186
The Moon looks in 187
The Sweet Hussy 188
The Telegram 189
The Moth-signal 191
Seen by the Waits 193
The Two Soldiers 194
The Death of Regret 195
In the Days of Crinoline 197
The Roman Gravemounds 199
The Workbox 201
The Sacrilege 203
The Abbey Mason 210
The Jubilee of a Magazine 222
The Satin Shoes 224
Exeunt Omnes 227
A Poet 228
“Men who march away” 229



PLUNGING and labouring on in a tide of visions,
Dolorous and dear,
Forward I pushed my way as amid waste waters
Stretching around,
Through whose eddies there glimmered the customed landscape
Yonder and near,

Blotted to feeble mist. And the coomb and the upland
Ancient chalk-pit, milestone, rills in the grass-flat
Stroked by the light,
Seemed but a ghost-like gauze, and no substantial
Meadow or mound.

What were the infinite spectacles bulking foremost
Under my sight,
Hindering me to discern my paced advancement
Lengthening to miles;
What were the re-creations killing the daytime
As by the night?

O they were speechful faces, gazing insistent,
Some as with smiles,
Some as with slow-born tears that brinily trundled
Over the wrecked
Cheeks that were fair in their flush-time, ash now with anguish,
Harrowed by wiles.

Yes, I could see them, feel them, hear them, address them—
And, alas, onwards, shaken by fierce unreason,
Rigid in hate,
Smitten by years-long wryness born of misprision,
Dreaded, suspect.

Then there would breast me shining sights, sweet seasons
Further in date;
Instruments of strings with the tenderest passion
Vibrant, beside
Lamps long extinguished, robes, cheeks, eyes with the earth’s crust
Now corporate.

Also there rose a headland of hoary aspect
Gnawed by the tide,
Frilled by the nimb of the morning as two friends stood there
Guilelessly glad—
Wherefore they knew not—touched by the fringe of an ecstasy
Scantly descried.

Later images too did the day unfurl me,
Shadowed and sad,
Clay cadavers of those who had shared in the dramas,
Laid now at ease,
Passions all spent, chiefest the one of the broad brow

So did beset me scenes miscalled of the bygone,
Over the leaze,
Past the clump, and down to where lay the beheld ones;
—Yea, as the rhyme
Sung by the sea-swell, so in their pleading dumbness
Captured me these.

For, their lost revisiting manifestations
In their own time
Much had I slighted, caring not for their purport,
Seeing behind
Things more coveted, reckoned the better worth calling
Sweet, sad, sublime.

Thus do they now show hourly before the intenser
Stare of the mind
As they were ghosts avenging their slights by my bypast
Body-borne eyes,
Show, too, with fuller translation than rested upon them
As living kind.

Hence wag the tongues of the passing people, saying
In their surmise,
“Ah—whose is this dull form that perambulates, seeing nought
Round him that looms
Whithersoever his footsteps turn in his farings,
Save a few tombs?”


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

And sat upright. While drearisome
Arose the howl of wakened hounds:
The mouse let fall the altar-crumb,
The worms drew back into the mounds,

The glebe cow drooled. Till God called, “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.

_April_ 1914.


(_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.


WE two kept house, the Past and I,
The Past and I;
I tended while it hovered nigh,
Leaving me never alone.
It was a spectral housekeeping
Where fell no jarring tone,
As strange, as still a housekeeping
As ever has been known.

As daily I went up the stair
And down the stair,
I did not mind the Bygone there—
The Present once to me;
Its moving meek companionship
I wished might ever be,
There was in that companionship
Something of ecstasy.

It dwelt with me just as it was,
Just as it was
When first its prospects gave me pause
In wayward wanderings,
Before the years had torn old troths
As they tear all sweet things,
Before gaunt griefs had torn old troths
And dulled old rapturings.

And then its form began to fade,
Began to fade,
Its gentle echoes faintlier played
At eves upon my ear
Than when the autumn’s look embrowned
The lonely chambers here,
The autumn’s settling shades embrowned
Nooks that it haunted near.

And so with time my vision less,
Yea, less and less
Makes of that Past my housemistress,
It dwindles in my eye;
It looms a far-off skeleton
And not a comrade nigh,
A fitful far-off skeleton
Dimming as days draw by.

(_To F. E. D._)

COME again to the place
Where your presence was as a leaf that skims
Down a drouthy way whose ascent bedims
The bloom on the farer’s face.

Come again, with the feet
That were light on the green as a thistledown ball,
And those mute ministrations to one and to all
Beyond a man’s saying sweet.

Until then the faint scent
Of the bordering flowers swam unheeded away,
And I marked not the charm in the changes of day
As the cloud-colours came and went.

Through the dark corridors
Your walk was so soundless I did not know
Your form from a phantom’s of long ago
Said to pass on the ancient floors,

Till you drew from the shade,
And I saw the large luminous living eyes
Regard me in fixed inquiring-wise
As those of a soul that weighed,

Scarce consciously,
The eternal question of what Life was,
And why we were there, and by whose strange laws
That which mattered most could not be.


WHETHER to sally and see thee, girl of my dreams,
Or whether to stay
And see thee not! How vast the difference seems
Of Yea from Nay
Just now. Yet this same sun will slant its beams
At no far day
On our two mounds, and then what will the difference weigh!

Yet I will see thee, maiden dear, and make
The most I can
Of what remains to us amid this brake Cimmerian
Through which we grope, and from whose thorns we ache,
While still we scan
Round our frail faltering progress for some path or plan.

By briefest meeting something sure is won;
It will have been:
Nor God nor Daemon can undo the done,
Unsight the seen,
Make muted music be as unbegun,
Though things terrene
Groan in their bondage till oblivion supervene.

So, to the one long-sweeping symphony
From times remote
Till now, of human tenderness, shall we
Supply one note,
Small and untraced, yet that will ever be
Somewhere afloat
Amid the spheres, as part of sick Life’s antidote.



SINKING down by the gate I discern the thin moon,
And a blackbird tries over old airs in the pine,
But the moon is a sorry one, sad the bird’s tune,
For this spot is unknown to that Heartmate of mine.


Did my Heartmate but haunt here at times such as now,
The song would be joyous and cheerful the moon;
But she will see never this gate, path, or bough,
Nor I find a joy in the scene or the tune.

(_Student’s Love-song_)

ONCE more the cauldron of the sun
Smears the bookcase with winy red,
And here my page is, and there my bed,
And the apple-tree shadows travel along.
Soon their intangible track will be run,
And dusk grow strong
And they be fled.

Yes: now the boiling ball is gone,
And I have wasted another day . . .
But wasted—_wasted_, do I say?
Is it a waste to have imaged one
Beyond the hills there, who, anon,
My great deeds done
Will be mine alway?


WHEN I set out for Lyonnesse,
A hundred miles away,
The rime was on the spray,
And starlight lit my lonesomeness
When I set out for Lyonnesse
A hundred miles away.

What would bechance at Lyonnesse
While I should sojourn there
No prophet durst declare,
Nor did the wisest wizard guess
What would bechance at Lyonnesse
While I should sojourn there.

When I came back from Lyonnesse
With magic in my eyes,
None managed to surmise
What meant my godlike gloriousness,
When I came back from Lyonnesse
With magic in my eyes.

(_A Reminiscence_)

SHE wore a new “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.



I tore your letter into strips
No bigger than the airy feathers
That ducks preen out in changing weathers
Upon the shifting ripple-tips.


In darkness on my bed alone
I seemed to see you in a vision,
And hear you say: “Why this derision
Of one drawn to you, though unknown?”


Yes, eve’s quick mood had run its course,
The night had cooled my hasty madness;
I suffered a regretful sadness
Which deepened into real remorse.


I thought what pensive patient days
A soul must know of grain so tender,
How much of good must grace the sender
Of such sweet words in such bright phrase.


Uprising then, as things unpriced
I sought each fragment, patched and mended;
The midnight whitened ere I had ended
And gathered words I had sacrificed.


But some, alas, of those I threw
Were past my search, destroyed for ever:
They were your name and place; and never
Did I regain those clues to you.


I learnt I had missed, by rash unheed,
My track; that, so the Will decided,
In life, death, we should be divided,
And at the sense I ached indeed.


That ache for you, born long ago,
Throbs on; I never could outgrow it.
What a revenge, did you but know it!
But that, thank God, you do not know.

(Near Tooting Common)


WHILE rain, with eve in partnership,
Descended darkly, drip, drip, drip,
Beyond the last lone lamp I passed
Walking slowly, whispering sadly,
Two linked loiterers, wan, downcast:
Some heavy thought constrained each face,
And blinded them to time and place.


The pair seemed lovers, yet absorbed
In mental scenes no longer orbed
By love’s young rays. Each countenance
As it slowly, as it sadly
Caught the lamplight’s yellow glance
Held in suspense a misery
At things which had been or might be.


When I retrod that watery way
Some hours beyond the droop of day,
Still I found pacing there the twain
Just as slowly, just as sadly,
Heedless of the night and rain.
One could but wonder who they were
And what wild woe detained them there.


Though thirty years of blur and blot
Have slid since I beheld that spot,
And saw in curious converse there
Moving slowly, moving sadly
That mysterious tragic pair,
Its olden look may linger on—
All but the couple; they have gone.


Whither? Who knows, indeed . . . And yet
To me, when nights are weird and wet,
Without those comrades there at tryst
Creeping slowly, creeping sadly,
That lone lane does not exist.
There they seem brooding on their pain,
And will, while such a lane remain.


IF ever joy leave
An abiding sting of sorrow,
So befell it on the morrow
Of that May eve . . .

The travelled sun dropped
To the north-west, low and lower,

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Online LibraryThomas HardySatires of Circumstance, lyrics and reveries with miscellaneous pieces → online text (page 1 of 7)