Afterwards – Thomas Hardy

by Caitlin

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When the Present has latched its postern behind my tremulous stay,

And the May month flaps its glad green leaves
like wings,
Delicate-filmed as new-spun silk, will the
neighbours say,
“He was a man who used to notice such things”?

If it be in the dusk when, like an eyelid’s
soundless blink,
The dewfall-hawk comes crossing the shades
to alight
Upon the wind-warped upland thorn, a gazer
may think,
“To him this must have been a familiar sight.”

If I pass during some nocturnal blackness, mothy and warm,
When the hedgehog travels furtively over the lawn,
One may say, “He strove that such innocent creatures should come to no harm,
But he could do little for them; and now he is gone.”

If, when hearing that I have been stilled at last, they stand at the door,
Watching the full-starred heavens that
winter sees,
Will this thought rise on those who will meet my face no more,
“He was one who had an eye for such mysteries”?

And will any say when my bell of quittance is heard in the gloom,
And a crossing breeze cuts a pause in its outrollings,
Till they rise again, as they were a new
bell’s boom,
“He hears it not now, but used to notice
such things”?

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