Friday, January 09, 2009

Poetry Friday - In a Wood

As hard as I tried, I couldn't turn my eyes from the wreck that is Tess of the D'Urbervilles this week. That got me thinking of Hardy, so today I'm sharing a bit of his poetry.
In a Wood
by Thomas Hardy

Pale beech and pine-tree blue,
    Set in one clay,
Bough to bough cannot you
    Bide out your day?
When the rains skim and skip,
Why mar sweet comradeship,
Blighting with poison-drip
    Neighborly spray?

Heart-halt and spirit-lame,
Unto this wood I came
    As to a nest;
Dreaming that sylvan peace
Offered the harrowed ease—
Nature a soft release
    From men’s unrest.

But, having entered in,
    Great growths and small
Show them to men akin—
    Combatants all!
Sycamore shoulders oak,
Bines the slim sapling yoke,
Ivy-spun halters choke
    Elms stout and tall.

Touches from ash, O wych,
    Sting you like scorn!
You, too, brave hollies, twitch
    Sidelong from thorn.
Even the rank poplars bear
Illy a rival’s air,
Cankering in black despair
    If overborne.

Since, then, no grace I find
    Taught me of trees,
Turn I back to my kind,
    Worthy as these.
There at least smiles abound,
There discourse trills around,
There, now and then, are found
The round up this week is being hosted by Anastasia Suen over at Picture Book of the Day. Be sure to visit and take in all the great poetry being shared this week. Before you go, do check out this week's poetry stretch results. Happy poetry Friday, all!


  1. I confess to not loving Hardy in either prose or verse. That said, this line is pretty sweet: "Heart-halt and spirit-lame,

    Yeah, I know what he's talking about some days.

  2. This is one of the few Hardy poems I like, largely because of the second stanza from which you quoted. I love the notion of nature as a release from unrest. Leave it to Hardy not to find it!

  3. Oh, but there's no one like Hardy to watch (if not to imitate) the "aged thrush" who chooses to "fling his soul against the growing gloom." Hardy tries to be happy - he just can't quite make it there. Maybe the only way to enjoy his work is when you feel the same way and need a sad friend...?

  4. That one is new to me and I just love his language. What a sharp twist on the kind of nature poems I usually read and write. I love it!

  5. I really don't understand what you mean by "the wreck." Do you mean you're unhappy with this production or you don't relate to Victorian literature? Or you are saddened by the social mores that were once prevalent? Hardy was, like Dickens, a great social commentator (and a wonderful poet).

  6. I suppose wreck was not the right word, but I just find Hardy so depressing. Tess' story just does me in, and as bad as I know it will be, I can't stop reading or look away.

  7. Yes, I agree. This is a gorgeous production!