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Thomas Hardy (Томас Харди)


The Dawn after the Dance


Here is your parents’ dwelling with its curtained windows telling
Of no thought of us within it or of our arrival here;
Their slumbers have been normal after one day more of formal
Matrimonial commonplace and household life’s mechanic gear.

I would be candid willingly, but dawn draws on so chillingly
As to render further cheerlessness intolerable now,
So I will not stand endeavouring to declare a day for severing,
But will clasp you just as always – just the olden love avow.

Through serene and surly weather we have walked the ways together,
And this long night’s dance this year’s end eve now finishes the spell;
Yet we dreamt us but beginning a sweet sempiternal spinning
Of a cord we have spun to breaking – too intemperately, too well.

Yes; last night we danced I know, Dear, as we did that year ago, Dear,
When a new strange bond between our days was formed, and felt, and heard;
Would that dancing were the worst thing from the latest to the first thing
That the faded year can charge us with; but what avails a word!

That which makes man’s love the lighter and the woman’s burn no brighter
Came to pass with us inevitably while slipped the shortening year. . . . 
And there stands your father’s dwelling with its blind bleak windows telling
That the vows of man and maid are frail as filmy gossamere.

Weymouth, 1869

Thomas Hardy's other poems:
  1. For Life I Had Never Cared Greatly
  2. Men Who March Away
  3. On the Belgian Expatriation
  4. An Appeal to America on Behalf of the Belgian Destitute
  5. In Time of Wars and Tumults


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