A New Year's Eve in War Time

By Thomas Hardy 1840–1928 Thomas Hardy

1915-1916


                          I

            Phantasmal fears,
            And the flap of the flame,
            And the throb of the clock,
            And a loosened slate,
            And the blind night's drone,
Which tiredly the spectral pines intone!


                          II

            And the blood in my ears
            Strumming always the same,
            And the gable-cock
            With its fitful grate,
            And myself, alone.


                         III

            The twelfth hour nears
            Hand-hid, as in shame;
            I undo the lock,
            And listen, and wait
            For the Young Unknown.


                         IV

            In the dark there careers — 
            As if Death astride came
            To numb all with his knock — 
            A horse at mad rate
            Over rut and stone.


                         V

            No figure appears,
            No call of my name,
            No sound but 'Tic-toc'
            Without check. Past the gate
            It clatters — is gone.


                         VI

            What rider it bears
            There is none to proclaim;
            And the Old Year has struck,
            And, scarce animate,
            The New makes moan.


                         VII

            Maybe that 'More Tears! — 
            More Famine and Flame — 
            More Severance and Shock!'
            Is the order from Fate
            That the Rider speeds on
To pale Europe; and tiredly the pines intone.

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

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Poet Thomas Hardy 1840–1928

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Victorian

Subjects Living, Death, Time & Brevity, Social Commentaries, War & Conflict

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza, Series/Sequence

 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, Death, Time & Brevity, Social Commentaries, War & Conflict

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Victorian

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza, Series/Sequence

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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