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Hardy's Poetry - The Going

A desk in the Study at Max Gate, Dorset
A desk in the Study at Max Gate, Dorset | © National Trust Images/Chris Lacey

From 1898 until his death in 1928 Thomas Hardy published eight volumes of poetry; about one thousand poems were published in his lifetime. Here is just one poem we have selected to share with you.

The Going

Why did you give no hint that night
That quickly after the morrow's dawn,
And calmly, as if indifferent quite,
You would close your term here, up and be gone Where I could not follow With wing of swallow
To gain one glimpse of you ever anon!

Never to bid good-bye Or lip me the softest call,
Or utter a wish for a word, while I Saw morning harden upon the wall, Unmoved, unknowing That your great going
Had place that moment, and altered all.

Why do you make me leave the house And think for a breath it is you I see
At the end of the alley of bending boughs Where so often at dusk you used to be; Till in darkening dankness The yawning blankness
Of the perspective sickens me!

You were she who abode By those red-veined rocks far West, You were the swan-necked one who rode Along the beetling Beeny Crest, And, reining nigh me, Would muse and eye me,
While Life unrolled us its very best.

Why, then, latterly did we not speak,
Did we not think of those days long dead, And ere your vanishing strive to seek That time's renewal? We might have said, "In this bright spring weather We'll visit together
Those places that once we visited."

Well, well! All's past amend, Unchangeable. It must go.
I seem but a dead man held on end
To sink down soon. . . . O you could not know That such swift fleeing No soul foreseeing--
Not even I--would undo me so!