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Poem by Thomas Hardy

The Chosen

A woman for whom great gods might strive!
I said, and kissed her there:
And then I thought of the other five,
And of how charms outwear.

I thought of the first with her eating eyes,
And I thought of the second with hers, green-gray,
And I thought of the third, experienced, wise,
And I thought of the fourth who sang all day.

And I thought of the fifth, whom Id called a jade,
And I thought of them all, tear-fraught;
And that each had shown her a passable maid,
Yet not of the favour sought.

So I traced these words on the bark of a beech,
Just at the falling of the mast:
After scanning five; yes, each and each,
Ive found the woman desired  at last!

  I feel a strange benumbing spell,
As one ill-wished! said she.
And soon it seemed that something fell
Was starving her love for me.

I feel some curse. O, five were there?
And wanly she swerved, and went away.
I followed sick: night numbed the air,
And dark the mournful moorland lay.

I cried: O darling, turn your head!
But never her face I viewed;
O turn, O turn! again I said,
And miserably pursued.

At length I came to a Christ-cross stone
Which she had passed without discern;
And I knelt upon the leaves there strown,
And prayed aloud that she might turn.

I rose, and looked; and turn she did;
I cried, My heart revives!
Look more, she said. I looked as bid;
Her face was all the fives.

All the five women, clear come back,
I saw in her  with her made one,
The while she drooped upon the track,
And her frail term seemed well-nigh run.

Shed half forgot me in her change;
Who are you? Wont you say
Who you may be, you man so strange,
Following since yesterday?

I took the composite form she was,
And carried her to an arbour small,
Not passion-moved, but even because
In one I could atone to all.

And there she lies, and there I tend,
Till my lifes threads unwind,
A various womanhood in blend 
Not one, but all combined.

Thomas Hardy

Thomas Hardy's other poems:
  1. Silences
  2. The Bad Example
  3. On the Tune Called the Old-Hundred-and-Fourth
  4. The Three Tall Men
  5. A Victorian Rehearsal

Poems of the other poets with the same name:

  • Marjorie Pickthall The Chosen ("CALLED to a way too high for me, I lean")
  • Ella Wilcox The Chosen ("They stood before the Angel at the gate")

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