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Poem by Thomas Hardy

The Widow Betrothed

I passed the lodge and avenue
To her fair tenement,
And sunset on her window-panes
Reflected our intent.

The creeper on the gable nigh
Was fired to more than red,
And when I came to halt thereby
Bright as my joy! I said.

Of late days it had been her aim
To meet me in the hall;
Now at my footsteps no one came,
And no one to my call.

Again I knocked, and tardily
An inner tread was heard,
And I was shown her presence then
With a mere answering word.

She met me, and but barely took
My proffered warm embrace;
Preoccupation weighed her look,
And hardened her sweet face.

To-morrow  could you  would you call?
Abridge your present stay?
My child is ill  my one, my all! 
And cant be left to-day.

And then she turns, and gives commands
As I were out of sound,
Or were no more to her and hers
Than any neighbour round. . . . 

 As maid I loved her; but one came
And pleased, and coaxed, and wooed,
And when in time he wedded her
I deemed her gone for good.

He won, I lost her; and my loss
I bore I know not how;
But I do think I suffered then
Less wretchedness than now.

For Time, in taking him, unclosed
An unexpected door
Of bliss for me, which grew to seem
Far surer than before.

Yet in my haste I overlooked
When secondly I sued
That then, as not at first, she had learnt
The call of motherhood. . . . 

Her word is steadfast, and I know
How firmly pledged are we:
But a new love-claim shares her since
She smiled as maid on me!

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