In The British Museum
'What do you see in that time-touched stone,
When nothing is there
But ashen blankness, although you give it
A rigid stare?
'You look not quite as if you saw,
But as if you heard,
Parting your lips, and treading softly
As mouse or bird.
'It is only the base of a pillar, they'll tell you,
That came to us
From a far old hill men used to name
- 'I know no art, and I only view
A stone from a wall,
But I am thinking that stone has echoed
The voice of Paul,
'Paul as he stood and preached beside it
Facing the crowd,
A small gaunt figure with wasted features,
Calling out loud
'Words that in all their intimate accents
That marble front, and were far reflected,
And then were gone.
'I'm a labouring man, and know but little,
Or nothing at all;
But I can't help thinking that stone once echoed
The voice of Paul.'
Thomas Hardy's Other Poems
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