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Afterwards
by
Thomas Hardy


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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?" 


This poem is in the public domain.

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Thomas Hardy (1840 - 1928) was an English writer who always considered himself a poet, although during his lifetime, his notoriety came from his novels. Even today, his novels (Tess of the d’Urbervilles, Far from the Madding Crowd, and Jude the Obscure, for example) are far better known than his poems. Thomas trained and worked as an architect before turning to writing; his attention to detail and his love of the natural world are obvious in his works’ lush descriptions of England’s country settings. Thomas left behind a huge and fascinating body of work, including poetry collections, novels, short stories, and plays.

 

 

 


New comments are closed for now.
Joe Sottile:
What a superb introduction to this poem, and poem! It reminds me of John Updike's last poem about death wherein he says that each death is sadly the loss of a unique person and personality.
Posted 05/09/2011 11:53 AM
Buckner14:
We could all wish for such commentary after we are gone. Hardy had a deeply principled mind....
Posted 05/09/2011 10:16 AM
dotief@comcast.net:
Lovely! Very rich in language and imagery.
Posted 05/09/2011 08:32 AM
KevinArnold:
A way Hardy wanted to be seen . . . who can trust the obituary writers to say such things as "He strove for such innocent creatures to come to no harm?"
Posted 05/09/2011 08:19 AM


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