Thomas Hardy ( )

The Colonels Soliloquy

            (Southampton Docks: October 1899)
  The quay recedes. Hurrah! Ahead we go!... 
  Its true Ive been accustomed now to home,
  And joints get rusty, and ones limbs may grow
  	More fit to rest than roam.
  But I can stand as yet fair stress and strain;
  Theres not a little steel beneath the rust;
  My years mount somewhat, but heres tot again!
  	And if I fall, I must.
  God knows that for myself I have scanty care;
  Past scrimmages have proved as much to all;
  In Eastern lands and South I have had my share
  	Both of the blade and ball.
  And where those villains ripped me in the flitch
  With their old iron in my early time,
  Im apt at change of wind to feel a twitch,
  	Or at a change of clime.
  And what my mirror shows me in the morning
  Has more of blotch and wrinkle than of bloom;
  My eyes, too, heretofore all glasses scorning,
  	Have just a touch of rheum. ...
  Now sounds The Girl Ive left behind me,  Ah,
  The years, the ardours, wakened by that tune!
  Time was when, with the crowds farewell Hurrah!
  	Twould lift me to the moon.
  But now its late to leave behind me one
  Who if, poor soul, her man goes underground,
  Will not recover as she might have done
  	In days when hopes abound.
  Shes waving from the wharfside, palely grieving,
  As down we draw. ... Her tears make little show,
  Yet now she suffers more than at my leaving
  	Some twenty years ago!
  I pray those left at home will care for her;
  I shall come back; I have before; though when
  The Girl you leave behind you is a grandmother,
  	Things may not be as then.

Thomas Hardy's other poems:
  1. A Private Man on Public Men
  2. The Night of the Dance
  3. Jubilate
  4. Regret Not Me
  5. The Last Signal

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