While I really enjoy Thomas Hardy’s poetry, I have to admit I’ve never read any of his novels and I don’t believe I’ve read any of his shorter fiction either. Maybe one of these days I’ll look him up on Project Gutenberg . That site has everything. ;-)
In the meantime, for today’s passion for poetry I’d like to share my favourite Thomas Hardy poem. It was written shortly after the death of his first wife, Emma. He wrote a whole series of love poems for her, regretting how much they had grown apart in the later years of their marriage.
The Shadow On The Stone
I went by the Druid stone
That broods in the garden white and lone,
And I stopped and looked at the shifting shadows
That at some moments fall thereon
From the tree hard by with a rhythmic swing,
And they shaped in my imagining
To the shade that a well-known head and shoulders
Threw there when she was gardening.
I thought her behind my back,
Yea, her I long had learned to lack,
And I said: ‘I am sure you are standing behind me,
Though how do you get into this old track?’
And there was no sound but the fall of a leaf
As a sad response; and to keep down grief
I would not turn my head to discover
That there was nothing in my belief.
Yet I wanted to look and see
That nobody stood at the back of me;
But I thought once more: ‘Nay, I’ll not unvision
A shape which, somehow, there may be.’
So I went on softly from the glade,
And left her behind me throwing her shade,
As she were indeed an apparition—
My head unturned lest my dream should fade.