Poetic Words: Thomas Hardy

In my long-ago college days, Hardy the novelist was celebrated, and Hardy the poet was–other than a few well-anthologized poems like The Darkling Thrush–passed over without comment by the faculty and the English majors. He was too Victorian, too prolific, a relic, and flat.

I’m glad to say that bias has passed, and the craft and depth of his poems are now valued (in concert with, rather than in opposition to, what else was going on in the early 20th century poetically).

Here’s one, chosen in honor of the gentle dust of white on our sort of suburban, even rural, back patio.


        Every branch big with it,
	Bent every twig with it;
       Every fork like a white web-foot;
       Every street and pavement mute:
Some flakes have lost their way, and grope back upward, when
Meeting those meandering down they tum and descend again.
     The palings are glued together like a wall,
     And there is no waft of wind with the fleecy fall.

A sparrow enters the tree,
	Whereon immediately
       A snow-lump thrice his own slight size
       Descends on him and showers his head and eyes,
	And overturns him,
	And near inurns him,
 And lights on a nether twig, when its brush
Starts off a volley of other lodging lumps with a rush.

      The steps are a blanched slope,
      Up which, with feeble hope,
A black cat comes, wide-eyed and thin;
	And we take him in


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