Thomas Hardy

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

The Self-Unseeing


Here is the ancient floor,
Footworn and hollowed and thin,
Here was the former door
Where the dead feet walked in.

She sat here in her chair,
Smiling into the fire;
He who played stood there,
Bowing it higher and higher.

Childlike, I danced in a dream;
Blessings emblazoned that day;
Everything glowed with a gleam;
Yet we were looking away!

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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  • Jon Fogerty (11/24/2009 11:56:00 AM)

    Was it one of the Metaphysical, or maybe Elizabethan, poets who wrote the immortal line 'Gather ye rosebuds while ye may.' In other words, seize the moment and enjoy the happiness of the passing moments of your life. I think there is an element of this in Hardy's exquisite poem which is one of my all-time favourites.
    The final couplet 'Everything glowed with a gleam/Yet we were looking away! ' says it all. We do not recognize the happy moments of our lives when we are in the midst of them, we are constantly looking towards something else, unable to fully enjoy the present. In retrospect, as with the speaker in the first two stanzas, it is only when we encounter something which evokes memories of past happy monents that we begin to realise how happy we were then.
    But of course, those moments are lost, irretrievable - except in memory.
    This poem is a wonderful example of Hardy's greatness as a poet, and as a poet of everyday, simple things. There are three stanzas with only twelve lines yet how much Hardy evokes in them. The language is simple, uncomplicated. Yet Hardy manages to say so much more about being human in those short stanzas than the vast majority of modern and post-modern poets are capable of saying, many of whom write incomprehensibe poems and seem to be mainly interested in doing just that. (Report) Reply

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