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Late Lyrics and Earlier by Thomas Hardy

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A true thing tell:

Which would be truth, indeed,
Though worse in speaking,
Were her poor footsteps seeking
A pauper's cell.

I judge, then, better far
She now have sorrow,
Than gladness that to-morrow
Might know its knell. -

It may be men there are
Could make of union
A lifelong sweet communion -
A passioned spell;

But _I_, to save her name
And bring salvation
By altar-affirmation
And bridal bell;

I, by whose rash unshame
These tears come to her:-
My faith would more undo her
Than my farewell!

Chained to me, year by year
My moody madness
Would wither her old gladness
Like famine fell.

She'll take the ill that's near,
And bear the blaming.
'Twill pass. Full soon her shaming
They'll cease to yell.

Our unborn, first her moan,
Will grow her guerdon,
Until from blot and burden
A joyance swell;

In that therein she'll own
My good part wholly,
My evil staining solely
My own vile vell.

Of the disgrace, may be
"He shunned to share it,
Being false," they'll say. I'll bear it;
Time will dispel

The calumny, and prove
This much about me,
That she lives best without me
Who would live well.

That, this once, not self-love
But good intention
Pleads that against convention
We two rebel.

For, is one moonlight dance,
One midnight passion,
A rock whereon to fashion
Life's citadel?

Prove they their power to prance
Life's miles together
From upper slope to nether
Who trip an ell?

- Years hence, or now apace,
May tongues be calling
News of my further falling
Sinward pell-mell:

Then this great good will grace
Our lives' division,
She's saved from more misprision
Though I plumb hell.


(The following lines are partly made up, partly remembered from a
Wessex folk-rhyme)

"What shall I bring you?
Please will white do
Best for your wearing
The long day through?"
"--White is for weddings,
Weddings, weddings,
White is for weddings,
And that won't do."

"What shall I bring you?
Please will red do
Best for your wearing
The long day through?"
" --Red is for soldiers,
Soldiers, soldiers,
Red is for soldiers,
And that won't do."

"What shall I bring you?
Please will blue do
Best for your wearing
The long day through?"
"--Blue is for sailors,
Sailors, sailors,
Blue is for sailors,
And that won't do.

"What shall I bring you?
Please will green do
Best for your wearing
The long day through?"
"--Green is for mayings,
Mayings, mayings,
Green is for mayings,
And that won't do."

"What shall I bring you
Then? Will black do
Best for your wearing
The long day through?"
"--Black is for mourning,
Mourning, mourning,
Black is for mourning,
And black will do."


I wayfared at the nadir of the sun
Where populations meet, though seen of none;
And millions seemed to sigh around
As though their haunts were nigh around,
And unknown throngs to cry around
Of things late done.

"O Seers, who well might high ensample show"
(Came throbbing past in plainsong small and slow),
"Leaders who lead us aimlessly,
Teachers who train us shamelessly,
Why let ye smoulder flamelessly
The truths ye trow?

"Ye scribes, that urge the old medicament,
Whose fusty vials have long dried impotent,
Why prop ye meretricious things,
Denounce the sane as vicious things,
And call outworn factitious things

"O Dynasties that sway and shake us so,
Why rank your magnanimities so low
That grace can smooth no waters yet,
But breathing threats and slaughters yet
Ye grieve Earth's sons and daughters yet
As long ago?

"Live there no heedful ones of searching sight,
Whose accents might be oracles that smite
To hinder those who frowardly
Conduct us, and untowardly;
To lead the nations vawardly
From gloom to light?"

September 22, 1899.


I never cared for Life: Life cared for me,
And hence I owed it some fidelity.
It now says, "Cease; at length thou hast learnt to grind
Sufficient toll for an unwilling mind,
And I dismiss thee--not without regard
That thou didst ask no ill-advised reward,
Nor sought in me much more than thou couldst find."


Where once we danced, where once sang,
The floors are sunken, cobwebs hang,
And cracks creep; worms have fed upon
The doors. Yea, sprightlier times were then
Than now, with harps and tabrets gone,

Where once we rowed, where once we sailed,
And damsels took the tiller, veiled
Against too strong a stare (God wot
Their fancy, then or anywhen!)
Upon that shore we are clean forgot,

We have lost somewhat, afar and near,
The thinning of our ranks each year
Affords a hint we are nigh undone,
That we shall not be ever again
The marked of many, loved of one,

In dance the polka hit our wish,
The paced quadrille, the spry schottische,
"Sir Roger."--And in opera spheres
The "Girl" (the famed "Bohemian"),
And "Trovatore," held the ears,

This season's paintings do not please,
Like Etty, Mulready, Maclise;
Throbbing romance has waned and wanned;
No wizard wields the witching pen
Of Bulwer, Scott, Dumas, and Sand,

The bower we shrined to Tennyson,
Is roof-wrecked; damps there drip upon
Sagged seats, the creeper-nails are rust,
The spider is sole denizen;
Even she who read those rhymes is dust,

We who met sunrise sanguine-souled,
Are wearing weary. We are old;
These younger press; we feel our rout
Is imminent to Aides' den, -
That evening's shades are stretching out,

And yet, though ours be failing frames,
So were some others' history names,
Who trode their track light-limbed and fast
As these youth, and not alien
From enterprise, to their long last,

Sophocles, Plato, Socrates,
Pythagoras, Thucydides,
Herodotus, and Homer,--yea,
Clement, Augustin, Origen,
Burnt brightlier towards their setting-day,

And ye, red-lipped and smooth-browed; list,
Much is there waits you we have missed;
Much lore we leave you worth the knowing,
Much, much has lain outside our ken:
Nay, rush not: time serves: we are going,


Simple was I and was young;
Kept no gallant tryst, I;
Even from good words held my tongue,
Quoniam Tu fecisti!

Through my youth I stirred me not,
High adventure missed I,
Left the shining shrines unsought;
Yet--me deduxisti!

At my start by Helicon
Love-lore little wist I,
Worldly less; but footed on;
Why? Me suscepisti!

When I failed at fervid rhymes,
"Shall," I said, "persist I?"
"Dies" (I would add at times)
"Meos posuisti!"

So I have fared through many suns;
Sadly little grist I
Bring my mill, or any one's,
Domine, Tu scisti!

And at dead of night I call:
"Though to prophets list I,
Which hath understood at all?
Yea: Quem elegisti?"


"Cogitavi vias meas"

A cry from the green-grained sticks of the fire
Made me gaze where it seemed to be:
'Twas my own voice talking therefrom to me
On how I had walked when my sun was higher -
My heart in its arrogancy.

"You held not to whatsoever was true,"
Said my own voice talking to me:
"Whatsoever was just you were slack to see;
Kept not things lovely and pure in view,"
Said my own voice talking to me.

"You slighted her that endureth all,"
Said my own voice talking to me;
"Vaunteth not, trusteth hopefully;
That suffereth long and is kind withal,"
Said my own voice talking to me.

"You taught not that which you set about,"
Said my own voice talking to me;
"That the greatest of things is Charity. . . "
- And the sticks burnt low, and the fire went out,
And my voice ceased talking to me.


{1} Quadrilles danced early in the nineteenth century.

{2} It was said her real name was Eve Trevillian or Trevelyan; and
that she was the handsome mother of two or three illegitimate
children, circa 1784-95.

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