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Thomas Hardy (Томас Харди)

A Musical Incident

When I see the room it hurts me
As with a pricking blade,
Those women being the memoried reason why my cheer deserts me. –
’Twas thus. One of them played
To please her friend, not knowing
That friend was speedily growing,
Behind the player’s chair,
Somnolent, unaware
Of any music there.

I saw it, and it distressed me,
For I had begun to think
I loved the drowsy listener, when this arose to test me
And tug me from love’s brink.
‘Beautiful!’ said she, waking
As the music ceased. ‘Heart-aching!’
Though never a note she’d heard
To judge of as averred –
Save that of the very last word.

All would have faded in me,
But that the sleeper brought
News a week thence that her friend was dead. It stirred within me
Sense of injustice wrought
That dead player’s poor intent –
So heartily, kindly meant –
As blandly added the sigher:
‘How glad I am I was nigh her,
To hear her last tune!’ – ‘Liar!’
I lipped. – This gave love pause,
And killed it, such as it was.

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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