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About this Poem 

This poem was published in Selected Poems of Thomas Hardy (Macmillan, 1916).

The Phantom Horsewoman

                    I
Queer are the ways of a man I know:
            He comes and stands
            In a careworn craze,
            And looks at the sands
            And the seaward haze
            With moveless hands
            And face and gaze,
            Then turns to go…
And what does he see when he gazes so?

                    II
They say he sees as an instant thing
            More clear than to-day,
            A sweet soft scene
            That once was in play
            By that briny green;
            Yes, notes alway
            Warm, real, and keen,
            What his back years bring—
A phantom of his own figuring.

                   III
Of this vision of his they might say more:
            Not only there
            Does he see this sight,
            But everywhere
            In his brain—day, night,
            As if on the air
            It were drawn rose-bright—
            Yea, far from that shore
Does he carry this vision of heretofore:

                    IV
A ghost-girl-rider. And though, toil-tried,
            He withers daily,
            Time touches her not,
            But she still rides gaily
            In his rapt thought
            On that shagged and shaly
            Atlantic spot,
            And as when first eyed
Draws rein and sings to the swing of the tide.

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. He died on January 11, 1928.

by this poet

poem

Forty years—aye, and several more—ago,
      When I paced the headlands loosed from dull employ,
The waves huzza’d like a multitude below, 
      In the sway of an all-including joy
              Without cloy.

Blankly I walked there a double decade after,
      When thwarts had flung

poem

   O Life with the sad seared face,
            I weary of seeing thee,
And thy draggled cloak, and thy hobbling pace,
            And thy too-forced pleasantry!

   I know what thou would’st tell
            Of Death, Time, Destiny—
I have known it long, and know, too, well

poem
Hap
If but some vengeful god would call to me
From up the sky, and laugh: "Thou suffering thing,
Know that thy sorrow is my ecstasy,
that thy love's loss is my hate's profiting!"

Then would I bear it, clench myself, and die,
Steeled by the sense of ire unmerited;
Half-eased in that a Powerfuller than I
Had willed