Before Marching and After

By Thomas Hardy 1840–1928 Thomas Hardy

(in Memoriam F. W. G.)

       Orion swung southward aslant
       Where the starved Egdon pine-trees had thinned,
       The Pleiads aloft seemed to pant
       With the heather that twitched in the wind;
But he looked on indifferent to sights such as these,
Unswayed by love, friendship, home joy or home sorrow,
And wondered to what he would march on the morrow.
       The crazed household-clock with its whirr
       Rang midnight within as he stood,
       He heard the low sighing of her
       Who had striven from his birth for his good;
But he still only asked the spring starlight, the breeze,
What great thing or small thing his history would borrow
From that Game with Death he would play on the morrow.
       When the heath wore the robe of late summer,
       And the fuchsia-bells, hot in the sun,
       Hung red by the door, a quick comer
       Brought tidings that marching was done
For him who had joined in that game overseas
Where Death stood to win, though his name was to borrow
A brightness therefrom not to fade on the morrow.

Source: Thomas Hardy: The Complete Poems (Palgrave, 2001)

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Thomas Hardy 1840–1928



Subjects Living, Sorrow & Grieving, Social Commentaries, War & Conflict

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza

 Thomas  Hardy


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 . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Sorrow & Grieving, Social Commentaries, War & Conflict



Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.