Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Day of the Dead - RIP Thomas Hardy

Thomas Hardy wrote great novels and then, tired of novel writing, became a great poet.  At his death some in his family and some of his friends wanted him buried with his first wife, Emma, in St. Michael's Churchyard in Stinsford in Dorset; the Executor of his estate, however, demanded that he be honored by burial in Poet's Corner of Westminster Abbey.  A compromise was reached: Hardy's heart was removed and buried with Emma; the rest of him was cremated and put to rest with his fellow poets in Westminster Abbey.

I have a thousand or so favorite lines of poems; one would be the last line of "During Wind and Rain".  I can't imagine walking in a cemetery on any day -- rainy or sunny -- without thinking of it.

Thomas Hardy - 1840 - 1928

During Wind and Rain

They sing their dearest songs—
       He, she, all of them—yea,
       Treble and tenor and bass,
            And one to play;
      With the candles mooning each face. . . .
            Ah, no; the years O!
How the sick leaves reel down in throngs!

       They clear the creeping moss—
       Elders and juniors—aye,
       Making the pathways neat
            And the garden gay;
       And they build a shady seat. . . .
            Ah, no; the years, the years,
See, the white storm-birds wing across.

       They are blithely breakfasting all—
       Men and maidens—yea,
       Under the summer tree,
            With a glimpse of the bay,
       While pet fowl come to the knee. . . .
            Ah, no; the years O!
And the rotten rose is ript from the wall.

       They change to a high new house,
       He, she, all of them—aye,
       Clocks and carpets and chairs
          On the lawn all day,
       And brightest things that are theirs. . . .
          Ah, no; the years, the years
Down their carved names the rain-drop ploughs.

     -- Thomas Hardy

Hardy grave; down his scripted name raindrops, like tears, plough.

St. Michael's Church; Stinsford, England


  1. ah...bodies...St Catherine of Siena's head 'n one of her thumbs in Siena, foot in Venice, rest resting in Rome..

    am glad I came across your post today..that last line reminding me that as humans we are capable of so much..including composing "Down their carved names the rain-drop ploughs." time I'm cemetery walking I'll carry that with me...I could easily rest amongst those words..

  2. I love Thomas Hardy's books and poetry. You would think having taught "Tess" I would be sick of him but he constantly surprises me.