Wind. Rain. Hardy’s Poetry.


Sometimes you read a poem that somehow comes to be read in its own time. Its perfect time, I might say.

Outside it is still dark before dawn. It is unnaturally warm for November, too, an imperfect “Climate change? What climate change?” New England moment.

Wind. Rain. And me, just in from a dog-walk dreary.

The poem I read is by good old Thomas Hardy. I met Mr. Hardy thanks to Holden Caulfield, protagonist of J. D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye. Holden was reading The Return of the Native while cutting classes at Pencey Prep. If there’s one thing I admire, it’s an educated drop-out.

Anyway, Holden of the Hunting Hat loves that Eustacia Vye, main character of said Return of the Native. And as I loved Salinger’s book, I picked up Hardy’s book, and loved that, too, even though it couldn’t be more different. You know. Mexican enchiladas versus Swedish smorgasbord. Different, but compelling in their own ways.

Somehow the fates cued this morning’s inclement weather for my first read of Thomas Hardy’s “During Wind and Rain.” Only there’s more than wind and rain going down here. It’s raining years. And time.

Fate chose not only the right weather (outside my house) but the right age (inside my mortal coil) for reading this poem. It bleeds mortality. At an alarming rate, too.

See if your years don’t look like leaves blowing off of life’s trees as you read, and you’ll understand! As Thomas Hardy would say: “O!”


During Wind and Rain
by Thomas Hardy

They sing their dearest songs—
He, she, all of them—yea,
Treble and tenor and bass,
And one to play;
With the candles mooning each face…
Ah, no: the years O!
How the sick leaves reel down in throngs!

They clear the creeping moss—
Elders and juniors—aye,
Making the pathways neat
And the garden gay;
And they build a shady seat….
Ah, no; the years, the years;
See, the white storm-birds wing across!

They are blithely breakfasting all—
Men and maidens—yea,
Under the summer tree,
With a glimpse of the bay,
While pet fowl come to the knee….
Ah, no; the years O!
And the rotten rose is ript from the wall.

They change to a high new house,
He, she, all of them—aye,
Clocks and carpets and chairs
On the lawn all day,
And brightest things that are theirs….
Ah, no; the years, the years;
Down their carved names the rain-drop ploughs.