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Thomas Hardy (Томас Харди)

In the Evening

In Memoriam Frederici Treves, 1853–1923
(Dorchester Cemetery, 2 Jan. 1924)

In the evening, when the world knew he was dead,
He lay amid the dust and hoar
Of ages; and to a spirit attending said:
‘This chalky bed? –
I surely seem to have been here before?’

‘O yes. You have been here. You knew the place,
Substanced as you, long ere your call;
And if you cared to do so you might trace
In this gray space
Your being, and the being of men all.’

Thereto said he: ‘Then why was I called away?
I knew no trouble or discontent:
Why did I not prolong my ancient stay
Herein for aye?’
The spirit shook its head. ‘None knows: you went.

‘And though, perhaps, Time did not sign to you
The need to go, dream-vision sees
How Aesculapius’ phantom hither flew,
With Galen’s, too,
And his of Cos – plague-proof Hippocrates,

‘And beckoned you forth, whose skill had read as theirs,
Maybe, had Science chanced to spell
In their day, modern modes to stem despairs
That mankind bears!...
Enough. You have returned. And all is well.’

Thomas Hardy's other poems:
  1. Transformations
  2. On Stinsford Hill at Midnight
  3. The Chimes Play ‘Life’s a Bumper!’
  4. Outside the Casement
  5. The Peasant’s Confession

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