Verse > Thomas Hardy > Wessex Poems and Other Verses
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Thomas Hardy (1840–1928).  Wessex Poems and Other Verses.  1898.
 
31. Her Immortality
 
 
UPON a noon I pilgrimed through
  A pasture, mile by mile,
Unto the place where I last saw
  My dead Love’s living smile.
 
And sorrowing I lay me down        5
  Upon the heated sod:
It seemed as if my body pressed
  The very ground she trod.
 
I lay, and thought; and in a trance
  She came and stood me by—        10
The same, even to the marvellous ray
  That used to light her eye.
 
“You draw me, and I come to you,
  My faithful one,” she said,
In voice that had the moving tone        15
  It bore in maidenhead.
 
She said: “‘Tis seven years since I died:
  Few now remember me;
My husband clasps another bride;
  My children mothers she.        20
 
My brethren, sisters, and my friends
  Care not to meet my sprite:
Who prized me most I did not know
  Till I passed down from sight.”
 
I said: “My days are lonely here;        25
  I need thy smile alway:
I’ll use this night my ball or blade,
  And join thee ere the day.”
 
A tremor stirred her tender lips,
  Which parted to dissuade:        30
“That cannot be, O friend,” she cried;
  “Think, I am but a Shade!
 
“A Shade but in its mindful ones
  Has immortality;
By living, me you keep alive,        35
  By dying you slay me.
 
“In you resides my single power
  Of sweet continuance here;
On your fidelity I count
  Through many a coming year.”        40
 
—I started through me at her plight,
  So suddenly confessed:
Dismissing late distaste for life,
  I craved its bleak unrest.
 
“I will not die, my One of all!—        45
  To lengthen out thy days
I’ll guard me from minutest harms
  That may invest my ways!”
 
She smiled and went. Since then she comes
  Oft when her birth-moon climbs,        50
Or at the seasons’ ingresses
  Or anniversary times;
 
But grows my grief. When I surcease,
  Through whom alone lives she,
Ceases my Love, her words, her ways,        55
  Never again to be!
 

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