Week 373: Seen by the Waits, by Thomas Hardy

One to get you in the mood for Christmas, though this being a Hardy poem it would be wise not to expect too much in the way of festive cheer. I like the fact that we are left to form our own conjecture as to exactly why the lady danced on hearing of her husband’s death. My money is on the realisation that it meant she wouldn’t have to spend another Christmas with her in-laws.

Seen By The Waits

Through snowy woods and shady
We went to play a tune
To the lonely manor-lady
By the light of the Christmas moon.

We violed till, upward glancing
To where a mirror leaned,
It showed her airily dancing,
Deeming her movements screened;

Dancing alone in the room there,
Thin-draped in her robe of night;
Her postures, glassed in the gloom there,
Were a strange phantasmal sight.

She had learnt (we heard when homing)
That her roving spouse was dead:
Why she had danced in the gloaming
We thought, but never said.

Thomas Hardy

2 thoughts on “Week 373: Seen by the Waits, by Thomas Hardy

  1. I read this many years ago now (don’t dare ask!), and your new blog has brought it all back.
    I’m usually wary of Hardy’s poetry – I think because of those who claimed his influence turned out to be so antithetical. But this one lingers, evokes, stirs.
    It’s the woman’s indeterminate intent; so open to wonder. It’d be vandalism to explain or tie her down to specific reasons.

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