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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 (Tinsley Brothers) in 1871, and was soon successful enough to leave the field of architecture for writing. His novels Tess of the D'Urbervilles (Osgood McIlvaine & Co., 1891) and Jude the Obscure (Osgood McIlvaine & Co., 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 Poems of the Past and the Present (Harper & Bros., 1902) and Satires of Circumstance (Macmillan, 1914).

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 FrostAudenDylan 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 of Thomas Hardy (Macmillan, 1920)
Moments of Vision (Macmillan, 1917)
Selected Poems of Thomas Hardy (Macmillan, 1916)
Satires of Circumstance (Macmillan, 1914)
Time's Laughingstocks (Macmillan, 1909)
The Dynasts (Macmillan, 1904)
Poems of the Past and the Present (Harper & Bros., 1902)

Letters
Jude the Obscure (Osgood McIlvaine & Co., 1895)
Tess of the D'Urbervilles (Osgood McIlvaine & Co., 1891)
The Woodlanders (Harper & Bros., 1887)
The Mayor of Casterbridge (J. W. Lovell, 1886)
Two on a Tower (J. W. Lovell, 1882)
A Laodicean (Harper & Bros., 1881)
The Trumpet Major (Henry Holt & Co., 1880)
The Return of the Native (Henry Holt & Co., 1878)
Far from the Madding Crowd (Smith, Elder & Co., 1876)
The Hand of Ethelberta (Henry Holt & Co., 1876)
A Pair of Blue Eyes (Henry Holt & Co., 1873)
Under the Greenwood Tree (Tinsley Brothers, 1872)
Desperate Remedies (Tinsley Brothers, 1871)

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, 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.

by this poet

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
poem
I

A shaded lamp and a waving blind,
And the beat of a clock from a distant floor:
On this scene enter—winged, horned, and spined—
A longlegs, a moth, and a dumbledore;
While 'mid my page there idly stands
A sleepy fly, that rubs its hands...

II

Thus meet we five, in this still place,
At this
poem

Your troubles shrink not, though I feel them less
Here, far away, than when I tarried near;
I even smile old smiles—with listlessness—
Yet smiles they are, not ghastly mockeries mere.

A thought too strange to house within my brain
Haunting its outer precincts I discern:
—That I