Poetry Corner: I Have Lived With Shades by Thomas Hardy

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!” 

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