[ No.71 of my favourite short poems ]
‘The Churchyard, Haworth’ … WHB – Pen & Ink: 1983
There is sadness, but with a quiet acceptance, in Hardy’s recall of the optimism of his ‘heydays’. He has come to an accommodation with old age. long life and a resignation which will take him content into his everlasting ‘slumber’.
Regret not me;
Beneath the sunny tree
I lie uncaring, slumbering peacefully.
Swift as the light
I flew my faery flight;
Ecstatically I moved, and feared no night.
I did not know
That heydays fade and go,
But deemed that what was would be always so.
I skipped at morn
Between the yellowing corn,
Thinking it good and glorious to be born.
I ran at eves
Among the piled-up sheaves,
Dreaming, “I grieve not, therefore nothing grieves.”
Now soon will come
The apple, pear, and plum
And hinds will sing, and autumn insects hum.
Again you will fare
To cider-makings rare,
And junketings; but I shall not be there.
Yet gaily sing
Until the pewter ring
Those songs we sang when we went gipsying.
And lightly dance
Some triple-timed romance
In coupled figures, and forget mischance;
And mourn not me
Beneath the yellowing tree;
For I shall mind not, slumbering peacefully
‘Thomas Hardy’ (1840-1928) by Walter William Ouless (National Portrait Gallery)
Readers may find it interesting to compare and contrast the lyrics of the classic Edith Piaf song . . .