Friday, 6 April 2012

Thomas Hardy's 'During Wind and Rain': Another Cheerful Hardy Moment


They sing their dearest songs—
He, she, all of them—yea,
Treble and tenor and bass,
And one to play;
With the candles mooning each face. . . .
Ah, no; the years O!
How the sick leaves reel down in throngs!

They clear the creeping moss—
Elders and juniors—aye,
Making the pathways neat
And the garden gay;
And they build a shady seat. . . .
Ah, no; the years, the years,
See, the white storm-birds wing across.

They are blithely breakfasting all—
Men and maidens—yea,
Under the summer tree,
With a glimpse of the bay,
While pet fowl come to the knee. . . .
Ah, no; the years O!
And the rotten rose is ript from the wall.

They change to a high new house,
He, she, all of them—aye,
Clocks and carpets and chairs
On the lawn all day,
And brightest things that are theirs. . . .
Ah, no; the years, the years
Down their carved names the rain-drop ploughs.

This is my last night in my current flat. As I've said to a few people, I kind of checked out mentally at least a month ago, if not more (annoying new management, etc etc.) But there is always a wrench when I move, and I need to say "goodbye" (even aloud) when I finally close the door on the empty flat. And I will miss the view over all of London very, very much - I am unlikely to ever live in a place with such a view again. I am looking forward to the new place, though. Fresh starts can be good.

The above poem is partly about moving house, which is why it occurred to me. It is also a memento mori poem; typical Hardy. Not exactly cheerful... But still, it was another of the poems that convinced me that I could love Hardy as a poet, at least, even if warming up to his prose took a lot longer (and still hasn't quite happened.)

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