About this poet

Thomas Hardy, the son of a stonemason, was born in Dorset, England, on June 2, 1840. He trained as an architect and worked in London and Dorset for ten years. Hardy began his writing career as a novelist, publishing Desperate Remedies in 1871, and was soon successful enough to leave the field of architecture for writing. His novels Tess of the D'Urbervilles (1891) and Jude the Obscure (1895), which are considered literary classics today, received negative reviews upon publication and Hardy was criticized for being too pessimistic and preoccupied with sex. He left fiction writing for poetry, and published eight collections, including Wessex Poems (1898) and Satires of Circumstance (1912).

Hardy's poetry explores a fatalist outlook against the dark, rugged landscape of his native Dorset. He rejected the Victorian belief in a benevolent God, and much of his poetry reads as a sardonic lament on the bleakness of the human condition. A traditionalist in technique, he nevertheless forged a highly original style, combining rough-hewn rhythms and colloquial diction with an extraordinary variety of meters and stanzaic forms. A significant influence on later poets (including Frost, Auden, Dylan Thomas, and Philip Larkin), his influence has increased during the course of the century, offering an alternative—more down-to-earth, less rhetorical—to the more mystical and aristocratic precedent of Yeats. Thomas Hardy died on January 11, 1928.


Selected Bibliography

Poetry

Collected Poems (1932)
Moments of Vision (1917)
Satires of Circumstance (1914)
The Dynasts (1908)
Time's Laughingstocks (1909)
Wessex Poems (1898)
Winter Words in Various Moods and Meters (1928)

Letters

A Laodicean (1881)
A Pair of Blue Eyes (1873)
Desperate Remedies (1871)
Far from the Madding Crowd (1876)
Jude the Obscure (1897)
Tess of the D'Urbervilles (1897)
The Hand of Ethelberta (1876)
The Mayor of Casterbridge (1886)
The Return of the Native (1879)
The Trumpet Major (1879)
The Well-Beloved (1897)
The Woodlanders (1887)
Two on a Tower (1882)
Under the Greenwood Tree (1872)

The Darkling Thrush

Thomas Hardy, 1840 - 1928
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 fervourless 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.

This poem is in the public domain.

This poem is in the public domain.

Thomas Hardy

Thomas Hardy

Thomas Hardy, the son of a stonemason, was born in Dorsetshire, England,

by this poet

poem

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

poem

I met her, as we had privily planned,
Where passing feet beat busily:
She whispered: "Father is at hand!
       He wished to walk with me."

His presence as he joined us there
Banished our words of warmth away;
We felt, with cloudings of despair,
       What Love must lose

poem
We waited for the sun
To break its cloudy prison
(For day was not yet done,
And night still unbegun)
Leaning by the dial.

After many a trial—
We all silent there—
It burst as new-arisen,
Throwing a shade to where
Time travelled at that minute.

Little saw we in it,
But this much I know,
Of lookers on that shade