I said “what ails thee Tom, what makes thee frown?”
“I’m pining for what all men miss, what I never had”,
He continued, “too often we try to hold on
To what is already lost, follow path of illusion,
The cost of new sensations from old experience
When friendly overture is cast as intrusion.
We stumbled together in fairer weather
In a rectory in March on Cornwall’s north coast,
The last and greatest grief, that of anticipation,
Ere I won the heart of Emma, all else was lost.
Fancy and reason are uneasy bedfellows
Logic can be chopped as freely as logs,
When the sun settles down we believe it will rise
In Budmouth and Hintock or Egdon Heath bogs.
Rose coloured cows seldom deliver the richest
Of cream that floats, the lightest of freight,
She whispered in Paris she floated with spirits,
I built her asylum, Max Gate.
I invented my own world to live in and dwell
Through Tess and Jude Fawley and Henchard I spoke,
Springrove, Eustacia and ‘Reddleman’ Venn,
Winterborne, Sue Bridehead and Gabriel Oak.
I brought back the Kingdom of Cedric of Wessex
And gave it new villages, cities and towns,
Christminster, Casterbridge, still Sleeping Green,
Oxwell, Port Bredy and Longpuddle Downs.
We were wrong for each other from outset,
Decisions ban choices, in present and past.
Now you know young man why I’m so despondent
Why I might seem so aloof and apart,
I ask myself ‘what if we never tarried’.
I might not have carried a stone for my heart”.
Dedicated to Thomas Hardy,
a time-torn man.