I came across this introduction to A Laodicean, one of Hardy’s lesser-known novels, yesterday. It’s one I haven’t read so I skimmed any parts of the article that looked like giving away too much plot. Of course, I immediately wanted to read it, even though I’m reading Buchan’s Three Hostages for the 1924 Club, listening to Dombey and Son & just about to start George Meredith’s Evan Harrington for my 19th century bookgroup. Luckily I have a copy so I won’t be tempted to break my book-buying ban but I’ll have to wait for a gap in the reading schedule. In the meantime, here’s The Going, one of the lovely poems Hardy wrote after the death of his first wife, Emma.
Why did you give no hint that night
That quickly after the morrow’s dawn,
And calmly, as if indifferent quite,
You would close your term here, up and be gone
Where I could not follow
With wing of swallow
To gain one glimpse of you ever anon!
Never to bid good-bye
Or lip me the softest call,
Or utter a wish for a word, while I
Saw morning harden upon the wall,
That your great going
Had place that moment, and altered all.
Why do you make me leave the house
And think for a breath it is you I see
At the end of the alley of bending boughs
Where so often at dusk you used to be;
Till in darkening dankness
The yawning blankness
Of the perspective sickens me!
You were she who abode
By those red-veined rocks far West,
You were the swan-necked one who rode
Along the beetling Beeny Crest,
And, reining nigh me,
Would muse and eye me,
While Life unrolled us its very best.
Why, then, latterly did we not speak,
Did we not think of those days long dead,
And ere your vanishing strive to seek
That time’s renewal? We might have said,
“In this bright spring weather
We’ll visit together
Those places that once we visited.”
Well, well! All’s past amend,
Unchangeable. It must go.
I seem but a dead man held on end
To sink down soon. . . . O you could not know
That such swift fleeing
No soul foreseeing–
Not even I–would undo me so!