Thomas Hardy

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

Afterwards


When the Present has latched its postern behind my tremulous stay,
And the May month flaps its glad green leaves like wings,
Delicate-filmed as new-spun silk, will the neighbours say,
'He was a man who used to notice such things'?

If it be in the dusk when, like an eyelid's soundless blink,
The dewfall-hawk comes crossing the shades to alight
Upon the wind-warped upland thorn, a gazer may think,
'To him this must have been a familiar sight.'

If I pass during some nocturnal blackness, mothy and warm,
When the hedgehog travels furtively over the lawn,
One may say, 'He strove that such innocent creatures should come to no harm,
But he could do little for them; and now he is gone.'

If, when hearing that I have been stilled at last, they stand at the door,
Watching the full-starred heavens that winter sees
Will this thought rise on those who will meet my face no more,
'He was one who had an eye for such mysteries'?

And will any say when my bell of quittance is heard in the gloom
And a crossing breeze cuts a pause in its outrollings,
Till they rise again, as they were a new bell's boom,
'He hears it not now, but used to notice such things'?

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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  • Glenn Baker (3/9/2011 11:42:00 AM)

    A tremendous poem reflecting on the brevity of human exsistence.
    Impending death humbles us all and we hope to be remembered. (Report) Reply

  • Gillian.E. Shaw (3/14/2005 8:07:00 AM)

    The poem is written like an epitaph where the poet reflects on the general view of himself after he is dead.
    The first stanza begins where the poet has died and the coming of spring. He questions if his neighbours will remember his appreciation for the season;
    his love of nature; trying to help innocent creatures and adds the sceptical explanation that when he is dead he will no longer be able to help them.
    Reflecting in the fourth stanza that he will be unable to see the winter night sky he makes it clear that he hopes to be remembered for his appreciation of it and its mysteries.
    Finally he reflects on the sound of his death knell and asks if he will be able to hear it.
    In conclusion the poet perhaps senses he will not be remebered in the way he would like to be. There is a feeling of insecurity, scepticism and realism in these lines. (Report) Reply

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