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Orion swung southward aslant Where the starved Egdon pine-trees had thinned, The Pleiads aloft seemed to pant With the heather that twitched in the wind; But he looked on indifferent to sights such as these, Unswayed by love, friendship, home joy or home sorrow, And wondered to what he would march on the morrow.
The crazed household clock with its whirr Rang midnight within as he stood, He heard the low sighing of her Who had striven from his birth for his good; But he still only asked the spring starlight, the breeze, What great thing or small thing his history would borrow From that Game with Death he would play on the morrow.
When the heath wore the robe of late summer, And the fuchsia-bells, hot in the sun, Hung red by the door, a quick comer Brought tidings that marching was done For him who had joined in that game overseas Where Death stood to win; though his memory would borrow A brightness therefrom not to die on the morrow.
This poem is in the public domain.
About This Poem
"Before Marching, and After" was published in Selected Poems of Thomas Hardy (Macmillan, 1916).
Thomas Hardy was born in Dorset, England, in 1840. His books include Poems of the Past and the Present (Harper & Brothers, 1902) and Satires of Circumstance: Lyrics and Reveries with Miscellaneous Pieces (Macmillan, 1914). Hardy died in 1928.
Thanks to Matthew Shenoda, author of Tahrir Suite: Poems (TriQuarterly Books, 2014), who curated Poem-a-Day this month. Read more about Shenoda and our guest editors for the year.
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