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Humanities Libertexts

10.8: The Going

Thomas Hardy

Why did you give no hint that night
That quickly after the morrow’s dawn,
And calmly, as if indifferent quite,
You[1] 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,
Unmoved, unknowing
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[2],
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!

— 1912

Contributors


  1. Hardy’s first wife, Emma. They married in 1874, and she died in 1912. 
  2. A cliff on the sea coast of northern Cornwall near the village where Hardy first met and began courting Emma Gifford. Hardy’s biographer notes that Emma was a fine horsewoman, who enjoyed “galloping over the hills on her beloved mare...bright hair streaming” (Halliday, p. 56). 
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