The To-be-forgotten

By Thomas Hardy 1840–1928 Thomas Hardy
I
            I heard a small sad sound,
And stood awhile among the tombs around:
"Wherefore, old friends," said I, "are you distrest,
            Now, screened from life's unrest?"

II
            —"O not at being here;
But that our future second death is near;
When, with the living, memory of us numbs,
            And blank oblivion comes!

III
            "These, our sped ancestry,
Lie here embraced by deeper death than we;
Nor shape nor thought of theirs can you descry
            With keenest backward eye.

IV
            "They count as quite forgot;
They are as men who have existed not;
Theirs is a loss past loss of fitful breath;
            It is the second death.

V
            "We here, as yet, each day
Are blest with dear recall; as yet, can say
We hold in some soul loved continuance
            Of shape and voice and glance.

VI
            "But what has been will be —
First memory, then oblivion's swallowing sea;
Like men foregone, shall we merge into those
            Whose story no one knows.

VII
            "For which of us could hope
To show in life that world-awakening scope
Granted the few whose memory none lets die,
            But all men magnify?

VIII
            "We were but Fortune's sport;
Things true, things lovely, things of good report
We neither shunned nor sought ... We see our bourne,
            And seeing it we mourn."

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Poet Thomas Hardy 1840–1928

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Victorian

Subjects Living, Disappointment & Failure, Time & Brevity, Relationships, Arts & Sciences, Death

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza

 Thomas  Hardy

Biography

One of the most renowned poets and novelists in English literary history, Thomas Hardy was born in 1840 in the English village of Higher Bockhampton in the county of Dorset. He died in 1928 at Max Gate, a house he built for himself and his first wife, Emma Lavinia Gifford, in Dorchester, a few miles from his birthplace. Hardy’s youth was influenced by the musicality of his father, a stonemason and fiddler, and his mother, Jemima . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Disappointment & Failure, Time & Brevity, Relationships, Arts & Sciences, Death

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Victorian

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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