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Thomas Hardy : At Castle Boterel

As I drive to the junction of lane and highway,
	And the drizzle bedrenches the waggonette,
I look behind at the fading byway,
	And see on its slope, now glistening wet,
		Distinctly yet

Myself and a girlish form benighted
	In dry March weather. We climb the road
Beside a chaise. We had just alighted
	To ease the sturdy pony’s load
		When he sighed and slowed.

What we did as we climbed, and what we talked of
	Matters not much, nor to what it led,—
Something that life will not be balked of
	Without rude reason till hope is dead,
		And feeling fled.

It filled but a minute. But was there ever
	A time of such quality, since or before,
In that hill’s story? To one mind never,
	Though it has been climbed, foot-swift, foot-sore,
		By thousands more.

Primaeval rocks form the road’s steep border,
	And much have they faced there, first and last,
Of the transitory in Earth’s long order;
	But what they record in colour and cast
		Is—that we two passed.

And to me, though Time’s unflinching rigour,
	In mindless rote, has ruled from sight
The substance now, one phantom figure
	Remains on the slope, as when that night
		Saw us alight.

I look and see it there, shrinking, shrinking,
	I look back at it amid the rain
For the very last time; for my sand is sinking,
	And I shall traverse old love’s domain
		Never again. 
March 1913

Thomas Hardy (1840-1928)	1913

 
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