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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)

The Subalterns

Thomas Hardy, 1840 - 1928

I

"Poor wanderer," said the leaden sky,
     "I fain would lighten thee,
But there are laws in force on high
     Which say it must not be."

II

--"I would not freeze thee, shorn one," cried
     The North, "knew I but how
To warm my breath, to slack my stride;
     But I am ruled as thou."

III

--"To-morrow I attack thee, wight,"
     Said Sickness. "Yet I swear
I bear thy little ark no spite,
     But am bid enter there."

IV

--"Come hither, Son," I heard Death say;
     "I did not will a grave
Should end thy pilgrimage to-day,
     But I, too, am a slave!"

V

We smiled upon each other then,
     And life to me had less
Of that fell look it wore ere when 
     They owned their passiveness.

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
She sped through the door
And, following in haste,
And stirred to the core,
I entered hot-faced;
But I could not find her,
No sign was behind her.
'Where is she?' I said:
"Who?" they asked that sat there;
"Not a soul's come in sight."
'A maid with red hair.'
"Ah." They paled. "She is dead.
People see her at
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
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