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Poem by Thomas Hardy

The Absolute Explains

O no, said It: her lifedoings
Times touch hath not destroyed:
They lie their length, with the throbbing things
Akin them, down the Void,
Live, unalloyed.

Know, Time is toothless, seen all through;
The Present, that men but see,
Is phasmal: since in a sane purview
All things are shaped to be

Your Now is just a gleam, a glide
Across your gazing sense:
With me, Past, Future, ever abide:
They come not, go not, whence
They are never hence.

As one upon a dark highway,
Plodding by lantern-light,
Finds but the reach of its frail ray
Uncovered to his sight,
Though mid the night

The road lies all its length the same,
Forwardly as at rear,
So, outside what you Present name,
Future and Past stand sheer,
Cognate and clear.

 Thus It: who straightway opened then
The vista called the Past,
Wherein were seen, as fair as when
They seemed they could not last,
Small things and vast.

There were those songs, a score times sung,
With all their tripping tunes,
There were the laughters once that rung,
There those unmatched full moons,
Those idle noons!

There fadeless, fixed, were dust-dead flowers
Remaining still in blow;
Elsewhere, wild love-makings in bowers;
Hard by, that irised bow
Of years ago.

There were my ever memorable
Glad days of pilgrimage,
Coiled like a precious parchment fell,
Illumined page by page,
Unhurt by age.

  Here you see spread those mortal ails
So powerless to restrain
Your young lifes eager hot assails,
With hazards then not plain
Till past their pain.

Here you see her who, by these laws
You learn of, still shines on,
As pleasing-pure as erst she was,
Though you think she lies yon,
Graved, glow all gone.

Here are those others you used to prize. 
But why go further we?
The Future?  Well, I would advise
You let the future be,
Unshown by me!

Twould harrow you to see undraped
The scenes in ripe array
That wait your globe  all worked and shaped;
And Ill not, as I say,
Bare them to-day.

In fine, Time is a mock,  yea, such! 
As he might well confess:
Yet hath he been believed in much,
Though lately, under stress
Of science, less.

And hence, of her you asked about
At your first speaking: she
Hath, I assure you, not passed out
Of continuity,
But is in me.

So thus doth Beings length transcend
Times ancient regal claim
To see all lengths begin and end.
The Fourth Dimension fame
Bruits as its name.

New Years Eve, 1922

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 Months Calendar
  5. Genitrix Laesa

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