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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)

To A Sea-Cliff

Thomas Hardy, 1840 - 1928
(Durlston Head)


    Lend me an ear
    While I read you here
A page from your history,
    Old cliff—not known
    To your solid stone,
Yet yours inseparably.

    Near to your crown
    There once sat down
A silent listless pair;
    And the sunset ended,
    And dark descended,
And still the twain sat there.

    Past your jutting head
    Then a line-ship sped,
Lit brightly as a city;
    And she sobbed: "There goes
    A man who knows
I am his, beyond God's pity!"

    He slid apart
    Who had thought her heart
His own, and not aboard
    A bark, sea-bound. . . .
    That night they found
Between them lay a sword.

From Human Shows—Far Phantasies, published in 1925.

From Human Shows—Far Phantasies, published in 1925.

Thomas Hardy

Thomas Hardy

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

by this poet

poem

           I
           (OLD STYLE)

Our songs went up and out the chimney,
And roused the home-gone husbandmen;
Our allemands, our heys, poussettings,
Our hands-across and back again,
Sent rhythmic throbbings through the casements
         On to the white highway,
Where

poem

A Woman was playing,
    A man looking on;
    And the mould of her face,
    And her neck, and her hair,
    Which the rays fell upon
    Of the two candles there,
Sent him mentally straying
    In some fancy-place
    Where pain had no trace.
A cowled Apparition

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