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Thomas Hardy

(2 June 1840 – 11 January 1928 / Dorchester / England)

A Wasted Illness


Through vaults of pain,
Enribbed and wrought with groins of ghastliness,
I passed, and garish spectres moved my brain
   To dire distress.

   And hammerings,
And quakes, and shoots, and stifling hotness, blent
With webby waxing things and waning things
   As on I went.

   "Where lies the end
To this foul way?" I asked with weakening breath.
Thereon ahead I saw a door extend -
   The door to death.

   It loomed more clear:
"At last!" I cried. "The all-delivering door!"
And then, I knew not how, it grew less near
   Than theretofore.

   And back slid I
Along the galleries by which I came,
And tediously the day returned, and sky,
   And life--the same.

   And all was well:
Old circumstance resumed its former show,
And on my head the dews of comfort fell
   As ere my woe.

   I roam anew,
Scarce conscious of my late distress . . . And yet
Those backward steps through pain I cannot view
   Without regret.

   For that dire train
Of waxing shapes and waning, passed before,
And those grim aisles, must be traversed again
   To reach that door.

Submitted: Saturday, January 04, 2003

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  • Maressa Zahra (3/11/2005 8:08:00 AM)

    I have read and examined quite throughly Hardy's novel 'Tess of the D'Urbervilles' and I find this poem very much apt to certain parts of the book. I strongly commend - both the novel and the poem - to be read searchingly. (Report) Reply

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