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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

Woman much missed, how you call to me, call to me,
Saying that now you are not as you were
When you had changed from the one who was all to me,
But as at first, when our day was fair.

Can it be you that I hear? Let me view you, then,
Standing as when I drew near to the town
Where

poem

I

"Poor wanderer," said the leaden sky,
     "I fain would lighten thee,
But there are laws in force on high
     Which say it must not be."

II

--"I would not freeze thee, shorn one," cried
     The
poem

Here is the ancient floor,
Footworn and hollowed and thin,
Here was the former door
Where the dead feet walked in.

She sat here in her chair,
Smiling into the fire;
He who played stood there,
Bowing it higher and higher.

Childlike, I danced in a dream;