Sunday, November 18, 2012

Sunday Poetry - Thomas Hardy

For the next few weeks I'll be featuring the poetry of Thomas Hardy in Sunday Poetry. He's always been one of my favourite authors of novels & poetry. I love that melancholy streak in his writing even though sometimes, as in Jude the Obscure, it becomes a little overwhelming. I'll never forget reading the crucial scene of despair in that novel (I won't describe it for fear of spoilers but if you've read the novel, you know the scene I mean, I'm sure). I was sitting on a train, coming home from university, on a gloomy, wet evening in the middle of winter. Maybe that was more appropriate than reading it on a gloriously sunny day but it was so overwhelmingly sad. Mostly I enjoy Hardy's realistic but grim view of human nature & the workings of Fate but Jude is such a sad book. I would like to reread it one day & see if I can find any optimism in it the second time around.

This week's poem is called He Fears His Good Fortune, which reminded me of Jude & of Hardy's whole outlook on life, really. It was published in his collection, Moments of Vision, in 1917.

There was a glorious time
At an epoch of my prime;
Mornings beryl-bespread,
And evenings golden-red;
Nothing gray:
And in my heart I said,
"However this chanced to be,
It is too full for me,
Too rare, too rapturous, rash,
Its spell must close with a crash
Some day!"

The radiance went on
Anon and yet anon,
And sweetness fell around
Like manna on the ground.
"I've no claim,"
Said I, "to be thus crowned:
I am not worthy this:-
Must it not go amiss? -
Well . . . let the end foreseen
Come duly!--I am serene."
--And it came.


  1. I was just reading a biography of Amy Lowell, a poet I didn't know very much about, and there was a wonderful story in it about her going to visit Thomas Hardy, getting caught in a rainstorm on the way, and arriving soaking wet at his country house. I'm not sure I ever realized he was a poet as well as a novelist. I really enjoy your Sunday poetry!

    1. Hardy wrote some beautiful poetry & it's been too long since I read it. Claire Tomalin's biography a few years ago reminded me of how lovely it was, especially the poems he wrote about his first wife, Emma, after she died. I'm glad you enjoy the Sunday Poetry, thanks!

  2. That is beautiful. Had not seen it before and so true how one can often feel a bit worried when things are going too well. I like the ending of this. Thanks for sharing, Pam

    1. Isn't it so typically Hardy though, Pam? Always look for the lead lining!

  3. I read Under the Greenwood Tree at school and hated it with a vengeance. It was years and years before I could bear to read any other Hardy novels, but once I started there was no stopping me. However, I think the only poem of his that I know is The Darkling Thrush, so reading your posts will be an introduction!

    1. School has a lot to answer for, hasn't it? I was put off several authors because we studied their books at school. Luckily, Hardy wasn't one of them.