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Thomas Hardy (Томас Харди)


Sing; how ’a would sing!
How ’a would raise the tune
When we rode in the waggon from harvesting
By the light o’ the moon!

Dance; how ’a would dance!
If a fiddlestring did but sound
She would hold out her coats, give a slanting glance,
And go round and round.

Laugh; how ’a would laugh!
Her peony lips would part
As if none such a place for a lover to quaff
At the deeps of a heart.

Julie, O girl of joy,
Soon, soon that lover he came.
Ah, yes; and gave thee a baby-boy,
But never his name. . . .

– Tolling for her, as you guess;
And the baby too. . . . ’Tis well.
You knew her in maidhood likewise? – Yes,
That’s her burial bell.

‘I suppose,’ with a laugh, she said,
‘I should blush that I’m not a wife;
But how can it matter, so soon to be dead,
What one does in life!’

When we sat making the mourning
By her death-bed side, said she,
‘Dears, how can you keep from your lovers, adorning
In honour of me!’

Bubbling and brightsome eyed!
But now – O never again.
She chose her bearers before she died
From her fancy-men.

NOTE. – It is, or was, a common custom in Wessex, and probably other country places, to prepare the mourning beside the death-bed, the dying person sometimes assisting, who also selects his or her bearers on such occasions.

‘Coats’ (line 7), old name for petticoats.

Thomas Hardy's other poems:
  1. The Woman I Met
  2. Surview
  3. After Reading Psalms XXXIX, XL, etc
  4. Drawing Details in an Old Church
  5. The Lost Pyx

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