About this poet

Thomas Hardy, the son of a stonemason, was born in Dorset, England, on June 2, 1840. He trained as an architect and worked in London and Dorset for ten years. Hardy began his writing career as a novelist, publishing Desperate Remedies in 1871, and was soon successful enough to leave the field of architecture for writing. His novels Tess of the D'Urbervilles (1891) and Jude the Obscure (1895), which are considered literary classics today, received negative reviews upon publication and Hardy was criticized for being too pessimistic and preoccupied with sex. He left fiction writing for poetry, and published eight collections, including Wessex Poems (1898) and Satires of Circumstance (1912).

Hardy's poetry explores a fatalist outlook against the dark, rugged landscape of his native Dorset. He rejected the Victorian belief in a benevolent God, and much of his poetry reads as a sardonic lament on the bleakness of the human condition. A traditionalist in technique, he nevertheless forged a highly original style, combining rough-hewn rhythms and colloquial diction with an extraordinary variety of meters and stanzaic forms. A significant influence on later poets (including Frost, Auden, Dylan Thomas, and Philip Larkin), his influence has increased during the course of the century, offering an alternative—more down-to-earth, less rhetorical—to the more mystical and aristocratic precedent of Yeats. Thomas Hardy died on January 11, 1928.


Selected Bibliography

Poetry

Collected Poems (1932)
Moments of Vision (1917)
Satires of Circumstance (1914)
The Dynasts (1908)
Time's Laughingstocks (1909)
Wessex Poems (1898)
Winter Words in Various Moods and Meters (1928)

Letters

A Laodicean (1881)
A Pair of Blue Eyes (1873)
Desperate Remedies (1871)
Far from the Madding Crowd (1876)
Jude the Obscure (1897)
Tess of the D'Urbervilles (1897)
The Hand of Ethelberta (1876)
The Mayor of Casterbridge (1886)
The Return of the Native (1879)
The Trumpet Major (1879)
The Well-Beloved (1897)
The Woodlanders (1887)
Two on a Tower (1882)
Under the Greenwood Tree (1872)

The Oxen

Thomas Hardy, 1840 - 1928

Christmas Eve, and twelve of the clock.
    "Now they are all on their knees,"
An elder said as we sat in a flock
    By the embers in hearthside ease.

We pictured the meek mild creatures where
    They dwelt in their strawy pen,
Nor did it occur to one of us there
    To doubt they were kneeling then.

So fair a fancy few would weave
    In these years! Yet, I feel,
If someone said on Christmas Eve,
    "Come; see the oxen kneel,

"In the lonely barton by yonder coomb
    Our childhood used to know,"
I should go with him in the gloom,
    Hoping it might be so.

This poem is in the public domain.

This poem is in the public domain.

Thomas Hardy

Thomas Hardy

Thomas Hardy, the son of a stonemason, was born in Dorsetshire, England,

by this poet

poem
(Durlston Head)


    Lend me an ear
    While I read you here
A page from your history,
    Old cliff—not known
    To your solid stone,
Yet yours inseparably.

    Near to your crown
    There once sat down
A silent listless pair;
    And the sunset ended,
    And dark descended,
And still the twain sat there
poem
We waited for the sun
To break its cloudy prison
(For day was not yet done,
And night still unbegun)
Leaning by the dial.

After many a trial—
We all silent there—
It burst as new-arisen,
Throwing a shade to where
Time travelled at that minute.

Little saw we in it,
But this much I know,
Of lookers on that shade
poem
I leant upon a coppice gate 
    When Frost was spectre-gray,
And Winter's dregs made desolate
    The weakening eye of day.
The tangled bine-stems scored the sky
    Like strings of broken lyres,
And all mankind that haunted nigh
    Had sought their household fires. 

The land's sharp features seemed to be