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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.

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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

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(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
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My spirit will not haunt the mound
            Above my breast,
But travel, memory-possessed,
To where my tremulous being found
            Life largest, best.

My phantom-footed shape will go
            When nightfall grays
Hither and thither along the ways
I and