I Have Lived With Shades – Thomas Hardy Poetry

Devian Art - ShadesI
I have lived with shades so long,
And talked to them so oft,
Since forth from cot and croft
I went mankind among,
That sometimes they
In their dim style
Will pause awhile
To hear my say;
And take me by the hand,
And lead me through their rooms
In the To-be, where Dooms
Half-wove and shapeless stand:
And show from there
The dwindled dust
And rot and rust
Of things that were.
“Now turn,” spake they to me
One day: “Look whence we came,
And signify his name
Who gazes thence at thee.” –
–“Nor name nor race
Know I, or can,”
I said, “Of man
So commonplace.
“He moves me not at all;
I note no ray or jot
Of rareness in his lot,
Or star exceptional.
Into the dim
Dead throngs around
He’ll sink, nor sound
Be left of him.”
“Yet,” said they, “his frail speech,
Hath accents pitched like thine –
Thy mould and his define
A likeness each to each –
But go! Deep pain
Alas, would be
His name to thee,
And told in vain!”
“O memory, where is now my youth,
Who used to say that life was truth?”
“I saw him in a crumbled cot
Beneath a tottering tree;
That he as phantom lingers there
Is only known to me.”
“O Memory, where is now my joy,
Who lived with me in sweet employ?”
“I saw him in gaunt gardens lone,
Where laughter used to be;
That he as phantom wanders there
Is known to none but me.”
Forgotten_Mill_by_Alderman“O Memory, where is now my hope,
Who charged with deeds my skill and scope?”
“I saw her in a tomb of tomes,
Where dreams are wont to be;
That she as spectre haunteth there
Is only known to me.”
“O Memory, where is now my faith,
One time a champion, now a wraith?”
“I saw her in a ravaged aisle,
Bowed down on bended knee;
That her poor ghost outflickers there
Is known to none but me.”
“O Memory, where is now my love,
That rayed me as a god above?”
“I saw him by an ageing shape
Where beauty used to be;
That his fond phantom lingers there
Is only known to me.”