Thomas Hardy ( ())


A Philosophical Fantasy


Milton . . . made God argue. 

                    WALTER BAGEHOT

Well, if you wilt, then, ask me;
To answer will not task me:
Ive a response, I doubt not,
And quite agree to flout not
Thy question, if of reason,
Albeit not quite in season:
A universe to marshal,
What god can give but partial
Eye to frail Earth  life-shotten
Ere long, extinct, forgotten! 
But seeing indications
That thou readst my limitations,
And since my lack of forethought
Aggrieves thy more and more thought,
Ill hearken to thy pleading:
Some lore may lie in heeding
Thy irregular proceeding.

 Tis this unfulfilled intention,
O Causer, I would mention: 
Will you, in condescension
This evening, ere weve parted,
Say why you felt fainthearted,
And let your aim be thwarted,
Its glory be diminished,
Its concept stand unfinished? 
Such I ask you, Sir or Madam,
(I know no more than Adam,
Even vaguely, what your sex is, 
Though feminine I had thought you
Till seers as Sire besought you; 
And this my ignorance vexes
Some people not a little,
And, though not me one tittle,
It makes me sometimes choose me
Call you It, if youll excuse me?)

Call me It with a good conscience,
And be sure it is all nonsense
That I mind a fault of manner
In a pigmy towards his planner!
Be I, be not I, sexless,
I am in nature vexless.
 How vain must clay-carved man be
To deem such folly can be
As that freaks of my own framing
Can set my visage flaming 
Start me volleying interjections
Against my own confections,
As the Jews and others limned me,
And in fear and trembling hymned me!
Call me but dream-projected,
I shall not be affected;
Call me blind force persisting,
I shall remain unlisting;
(A few have done it lately,
And, maybe, err not greatly).
 Another such a vanity
In witless weak humanity
Is thinking that of those all
Through space at my disposal,
Mans shape must needs resemble
Mine, that makes zodiacs tremble!

Continuing where we started: 
As for my aims being thwarted,
Wherefore I feel fainthearted,
Aimless am I, revealing
No heart-scope for faint feeling.
 But thy mistake Ill pardon,
And, as Adams mentioned to me,
(Though in timeless truth there never
Was a man like him whatever),
Ill meet thee in thy garden,
As I did not him, beshrew me!
In the sun of so-called daytime 
Say, just about the Maytime
Of my next, or next, Creation?
(I love procrastination,
To use the words in thy sense,
Which have no hold on my sense)
Or at any future stray-time. 
One of thy representatives
In some later incarnation
I mean, of course, well knowing
Thy present conformation
But a unit of my tentatives,
Whereof such heaps lie blowing
As dust, where thou art going;
Yea, passed to where suns glow not,
Begrieved of those that go not,
(Though what grief is, I know not).

Perhaps I may inform thee,
In case I should alarm thee,
That no dramatic stories
Like ancient ones whose core is
A mass of superstition
And monkish imposition
Will mark my explanation
Of the worlds sore situation
(As thou tellst), with woes that shatter;
Though from former aions to latter
To me tis malleable matter
For treatment scientific
More than sensitive and specific 
Stuff without moral features,
Which Ive no sense of ever,
Or of ethical endeavour,
Or of justice to Earths creatures,
Or how Right from Wrong to sever:

Let these be as men learn such;
For me, I dont discern such,
And  real enough I daresay 
I know them but by hearsay
As something Time hath rendered
Out of substance I engendered,
Time, too, being a condition
Beyond my recognition.
 I would add that, while unknowing
Of this justice earthward owing,
Nor explanation offering
Of what is meant by suffering,
Thereof Im not a spurner,
Or averse to be a learner.

To return from wordy wandering
To the question we are pondering;
Though, viewing the world in my mode,
I fail to see it in thy mode
As unfulfilled intention,
Which is past my comprehension
Being unconscious in my doings
So largely, (whence thy rueings); 
Aye, to human tribes nor kindlessness
Nor love Ive given, but mindlessness,
Which state, though far from ending,
May nevertheless be mending.

However, Ill advise him 
Him thy scion, who will walk here
When Death hath dumbed thy talk here 
In phrase that may surprise him,
What thing it was befel me,
(A thing that my confessing
Lack of forethought helps thy guessing),
And acted to compel me
By that purposeless propension
Which is mine, and not intention,
Along lines of least resistance,
Or, in brief, unsensed persistence,
That saddens thy existence
To think my so-called scheming
Not that of my first dreaming.



Thomas Hardy's other poems:
  1. Lying Awake
  2. An Evening in Galilee
  3. The Inscription
  4. The History of an Hour
  5. The Lady of Forebodings


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