Thomas Hardy

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

The Widow


By Mellstock Lodge and Avenue
   Towards her door I went,
And sunset on her window-panes
   Reflected our intent.

The creeper on the gable nigh
   Was fired to more than red
And when I came to halt thereby
   "Bright as my joy!" I said.

Of late days it had been her aim
   To meet me in the hall;
Now at my footsteps no one came;
   And no one to my call.

Again I knocked; and tardily
   An inner step was heard,
And I was shown her presence then
   With scarce an answering word.

She met me, and but barely took
   My proffered warm embrace;
Preoccupation weighed her look,
   And hardened her sweet face.

"To-morrow--could you--would you call?
   Make brief your present stay?
My child is ill--my one, my all! -
   And can't be left to-day."

And then she turns, and gives commands
   As I were out of sound,
Or were no more to her and hers
   Than any neighbour round . . .

- As maid I wooed her; but one came
   And coaxed her heart away,
And when in time he wedded her
   I deemed her gone for aye.

He won, I lost her; and my loss
   I bore I know not how;
But I do think I suffered then
   Less wretchedness than now.

For Time, in taking him, had oped
   An unexpected door
Of bliss for me, which grew to seem
   Far surer than before . . .

Her word is steadfast, and I know
   That plighted firm are we:
But she has caught new love-calls since
   She smiled as maid on me!

Submitted: Saturday, January 04, 2003

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