Week 280: In The Small Hours, by Thomas Hardy

Philip Larkin said he would not have wanted Hardy’s ‘Collected Poems’ one page shorter. I wouldn’t go that far, but I could happily fill a couple of years of this blog simply with Hardy poems. Here’s another, that captures with aching precision one of those wistful moments between dream and waking that seem to become more frequent as one goes older.

In The Small Hours

I lay in my bed and fiddled
With a dreamland viol and bow,
And the tunes flew back to my fingers
I had melodied years ago
It was two or three in the morning
When I fancy-fiddled so
Long reels and country-dances,
And hornpipes swift and slow.

And soon anon came crossing
The chamber in the gray
Figures of jigging fieldfolk –
Saviours of corn and hay –
To the air of ‘Haste to the Wedding.’
As after a wedding-day;
Yea, up and down the middle
In windless whirls went they!

There danced the bride and bridegroom,
And couples in a train,
Gay partners time and travail
Had longwhiles stilled amain!….
It seemed a thing for weeping
To find, at slumber’s wane
And morning’s sly increeping,
That Now, not Then, held reign.

Thomas Hardy

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