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10.4: The Subalterns

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  • Thomas Hardy


    ‘Poor wanderer,’ said the leaden sky,
    ‘I fain[2] would lighten thee,
    But there are laws in force on high
    Which say it must not be.’


    -‘I would not freeze thee, shorn one,’ cried
    The North, ‘knew I but how
    To warm my breath, to slack my stride;
    But I am ruled as thou.’


    -‘To-morrow I attack thee, wight,’
    Said Sickness. ‘Yet I swear
    I bear thy little ark no spite,
    But am bid enter there.’


    -‘Come hither, Son,’ I heard Death say;
    ‘I did not will a grave
    Should end thy pilgrimage to-day,
    But I, too, am a slave!’


    We smiled upon each other then,
    And life to me had less
    Of that fell look it wore ere when
    They owned their passiveness.

    — 1901


    • Template:ContribSexton

    1. A person holding a subordinate position. In the British Army, an officer ranked below captain. ↵
    2. Gladly. ↵
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