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About this Poem 

“Before Marching, and After” was published in Selected Poems of Thomas Hardy (Macmillan, 1916).

Before Marching, and After

(In Memoriam F. W. G.)

     Orion swung southward aslant
     Where the starved Egdon pine-trees had thinned,
     The Pleiads aloft seemed to pant
     With the heather that twitched in the wind;
But he looked on indifferent to sights such as these,
Unswayed by love, friendship, home joy or home sorrow,
And wondered to what he would march on the morrow.

     The crazed household clock with its whirr
     Rang midnight within as he stood,
     He heard the low sighing of her
     Who had striven from his birth for his good;
But he still only asked the spring starlight, the breeze,
What great thing or small thing his history would borrow
From that Game with Death he would play on the morrow.

     When the heath wore the robe of late summer,
     And the fuchsia-bells, hot in the sun,
     Hung red by the door, a quick comer
     Brought tidings that marching was done
For him who had joined in that game overseas
Where Death stood to win; though his memory would borrow
A brightness therefrom not to die on the morrow.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on May 27, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on May 27, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

Thomas Hardy

Thomas Hardy

Thomas Hardy, whose books include Tess of the d'Urbervilles and Jude the Obscure, was one of the most influentual novelists and poets of England's Victorian era. He died on January 11, 1928.

by this poet

poem


              To —

In vision I roamed the flashing Firmament,
So fierce in blazon that the Night waxed wan,
As though with awe at orbs of such ostént;
And as I thought my spirit ranged on and on

In footless traverse through ghast heights of sky,
To the last chambers of the

poem

(Lines on the loss of the "Titanic")

I

     In a solitude of the sea
     Deep from human vanity,
And the Pride of Life that planned her, stilly couches she.

II

poem
Why did you give no hint that night
That quickly after the morrow's dawn,
And calmly, as if indifferent quite,
You 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,