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Thomas Hardy : The Dead Man Walking

They hail me as one living,
	But don’t they know
That I have died of late years,
	Untombed although?

I am but a shape that stands here,
	A pulseless mould,
A pale past picture, screening
	Ashes gone cold.

Not at a minute’s warning,
	Not in a loud hour,
For me ceased Time’s enchantments
	In hall and bower.

There was no tragic transit,
	No catch of breath,
When silent seasons inched me
	On to this death. . . .

—A Troubadour-youth I rambled
	With Life for lyre,
The beats of being raging
	In me like a fire.

But when I practised eyeing
	The goal of men,
It iced me, and I perished
	A little then.

When passed my friend, my kinsfolk
	Through the last Door,
And left me standing bleakly,
	I died yet more;

And when my Love’s heart kindled
	In hate of me,
Wherefore I knew not, died I
	One more degree.

And if when I died fully
	I cannot say,
And changed into the corpse-thing
	I am to-day.

Yet is it that, though whiling
	The time somehow
In walking, talking, smiling,
	I live not now. 

Thomas Hardy (1840-1928)	1899


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