Thomas Hardy

A Victorian Rehearsal

A single shine broods gloomily
Where footlight flares are wont to be;
The stalls are swathed in holland shrouds,
Imaging lifeless first-night dowds;
The scene-cloths sway each feeble while
Like fusty banners in an aisle;
A daylight arrow shoots down through
Some inlet, of a steely blue,
Dappling at minutes the rehearsings,
Mutterings, crossings, and reversings
Done by a queer little group dull-dressed,
As ’twere some children’s game unguessed;
Town dwellers who affect them clowns,
Or villains fierce with oaths and frowns;
Among them being the leading lady,
Whose private life is whispered shady,
But who’s to divorce her spouse, they say,
Adding, ‘it should be the other way;’
Yet haggarded, in the morning light,
By too late-houring overnight,
In frowzed fur jacket, donned in haste,
A sweetheart not to every taste.

So much for what the gossips tell,
Truly, or liker falsely. – Well,
Anyhow, here are throbbing natures,
Arrived to take feigned nomenclatures,
Unheeding what warm complications
May issue from new, forced relations,
Wherein may lie more tragedy
Than in the play the town’s to see.

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