Thomas Hardy

Thomas Hardy Poems

Thomas Hardy is remembered today for novels such as Jude the Obscure and Tess of the d’Urbervilles. But, there is a wealth of content to explore in his masterful poetry. Read more about Thomas Hardy.

How Great My Grief

by Thomas Hardy

‘How Great My Grief’ by Thomas Hardy is a moving poem that examines a different kind of grief than the poet is typically associated with expressing.

This poem by Thomas Hardy offers a much different look at the grief commonly found expressed through his poems. Unlike his verses that poignantly mourn the death of his first wife, Emma, this one appears to lament their inconsolable and irreconcilable relationship while she was alive. Yet the poet illustrates with the same lucid intensity a sorrow that is both overwhelming and seemingly impossible to escape.

How great my grief, my joys how few,

Since first it was my fate to know thee!

- Have the slow years not brought to view

How great my grief, my joys how few,

To Life

by Thomas Hardy

‘To Life’ by Thomas Hardy is a deeply poignant poem that personifies life as a dreary individual whom the speaker accosts out of sadness.

This poem by Thomas Hardy depicts an existential frustration familiar to anyone who's suffered a series of incessant sorrows. At its core, the poem illustrates a meeting between its misery-plagued speaker and a personification of life that takes the appearance of a vagabond. An interaction that the poet uses to express their dissatisfaction and disappointment with the bleak course of their lives.

O Life with the sad seared face,

I weary of seeing thee,

And thy draggled cloak, and thy hobbling pace,

And thy too-forced pleasantry!

Beeny Cliff

by Thomas Hardy

‘Beeny Cliff’ by Thomas Hardy examines the disenchantment of a location that was once fondly beloved for its setting as a happy memory.

Some of Thomas Hardy's most affecting poetry deals with the loss of his wife, and this piece is no exception. This poignant poem is about memory and heartbreak, which attempts to reveal the lasting ways such grief can affect one's perception of a location. Written in the aftermath of his wife's death, this poem emphasizes the bittersweetness of remembering his beloved.

O the opal and the sapphire of that wandering western sea,

And the woman riding high above with bright hair flapping free–

The woman whom I loved so, and who loyally loved me.

Her Initials

by Thomas Hardy

‘Her Initials’ by Thomas Hardy is a deeply poignant poem that wrestles lucidly with grief’s diminishing effect on memories of loved ones.

Many of Thomas Hardy's most moving poems involve in some way the death of his first wife. There is an honesty to his portrayals of grief that never fail to tug at the heartstrings in some, especially amongst those who've reckoned with such loss. This poem is no different and faces down a minute, but still a painful reminder of a time when their beloved was nearer.

Upon a poet’s page I wrote

Of old two letters of her name;

Part seemed she of the effulgent thought

Whence that high singer’s rapture came.


by Thomas Hardy

‘Heredity’ by Thomas Hardy is a persona poem personalizing the titular speaker who brags about its ability to outlive individual human lives.

Thomas Hardy was known for his pessimistic outlook on life and humanity; this is reflected in his poetry. Even though 'Heredity' is one of Hardy's more popular and less pessimistic poems, it is still no exception to Hardy's signature tone and mood.

I am the family face;

Flesh perishes, I live on,

Projecting trait and trace

Through time to times anon,

A Thunderstorm In Town

by Thomas Hardy

‘A Thunderstorm In Town’ by Thomas Hardy presents two contrasting scenes: the dry interior of a carriage and the havoc of a thunderstorm outside. But the powerful imagery and symbolism mainly illustrate a memory of lovelorn regret by the speaker.

This is a short but memorable poem by Thomas Hardy that is both concise and highly detailed. The poem details a bittersweet encounter between two people, likely a man and a woman, who are briefly taking shelter together inside a carriage.

She wore a 'terra-cotta' dress,

And we stayed, because of the pelting storm,

Within the hansom's dry recess,

Though the horse had stopped; yea, motionless

In a Wood

by Thomas Hardy

Thomas Hardy’s ‘In a Wood’ explores disillusionment in nature as conflicts and rivalries undermine the speaker’s search for solace.

This poem is a good representation of Thomas Hardy's poetry. It embodies many of the themes and characteristics often found in his works, such as disillusionment, the complexities of human relationships, and the contrasting forces of nature and society. The poem showcases Hardy's keen observations of the natural world and his introspective exploration of human emotions and experiences.

Pale beech and pine-tree blue,

Set in one clay,

Bough to bough cannot you

Bide out your day?

A Broken Appointment

by Thomas Hardy

Hardy’s poetry focuses on themes such as disappointment, thwarted love, and pessimism. ‘A Broken Appointment’ provokes empathy towards the lyrical voice.

You did not come,

And marching Time drew on, and wore me numb,—

Yet less for loss of your dear presence there

Than that I thus found lacking in your make

Explore more poems from Thomas Hardy

A Wife in London

by Thomas Hardy

She sits in the tawny vapour

That the Thames-side lanes have uprolled,

Behind whose webby fold-on-fold

Like a waning taper

After a Journey

by Thomas Hardy

I come to interview a Voiceless ghost;

  Whither, O whither will its whim now draw me?

Up the cliff, down, till I'm lonely, lost,

  And the unseen waters' soliloquies awe me.


by Thomas Hardy

When the Present has latched its postern behind my tremulous stay,

     And the May month flaps its glad green leaves like wings,

Delicate-filmed as new-spun silk, will the neighbours say,

     "He was a man who used to notice such things"?

An August Midnight

by Thomas Hardy

‘An August Midnight’ was written in 1899 by ‘Thomas Hardy’, published in 1901. The main theme in this poem is the meaning and purpose in life.

A shaded lamp and a waving blind,

And the beat of a clock from a distant floor:

On this scene enter—winged, horned, and spined—

A longlegs, a moth, and a dumbledore;

And There Was a Great Calm

by Thomas Hardy

‘And There Was a Great Calm’ by Thomas Hardy describes the horrors of WWI, the end of the war, and the ‘Great Calm’ which came on November 11th, 1918.

There had been years of Passion—scorching, cold,

And much Despair, and Anger heaving high,

Care whitely watching, Sorrows manifold,

Among the young, among the weak and old,

At an Inn

by Thomas Hardy

‘At an Inn’ by Thomas Hardy recalls a stay that Hardy and his close female friend had at an inn. At the time they were not in love, but seemed to be.

    And we were left alone

       As Love's own pair;

    Yet never the love-light shone

       Between us there!

At Castle Boterel

by Thomas Hardy

‘At Castle Boterel’ was written in 1913. The poem remembers a certain moment in life that is associated with a deeply significant memory.

As I drive to the junction of lane and highway,

   And the drizzle bedrenches the waggonette,

I look behind at the fading byway,

   And see on its slope, now glistening wet,

Channel Firing

by Thomas Hardy

That night your great guns, unawares,

Shook all our coffins as we lay,

And broke the chancel window-squares,

We thought it was the Judgment-day

Drummer Hodge

by Thomas Hardy

They throw in Drummer Hodge, to rest

     Uncoffined—just as found:

His landmark is a kopje-crest

     That breaks the veldt around;

I look into my glass

by Thomas Hardy

‘I look into my glass’ by Thomas Hardy describes the painful process of aging and how one’s mental age is not always in line with one’s physical. 

    I look into my glass,

    And view my wasting skin,

    And say, "Would God it came to pass

    My heart had shrunk as thin!"

I Looked Up from My Writing

by Thomas Hardy

‘I Looked Up from My Writing’ by Thomas Hardy is a existentially contemplative piece in which a writer is confronted with his own ignorance and irresponsibility. 

I looked up from my writing,

   And gave a start to see,

As if rapt in my inditing,

   The moon's full gaze on me.

I Said To Love

by Thomas Hardy

Thomas Hardy’s ‘I Said To Love’ is about love and the difficulties that love creates on people. This poem reveals a speaker’s agonized reaction to love.

I said to Love,

"It is not now as in old days

When men adored thee and thy ways

   All else above;

In Tenebris: I by Thomas Hardy

by Thomas Hardy

‘In Tenebris: I’ by Thomas Hardy is one of three poems devoted to an exploration of the poet’s own grief. He was mourning the decline of his marriage and writing career.

Wintertime nighs;

But my bereavement-pain

It cannot bring again:

Twice no one dies.

In the Servants’ Quarters

by Thomas Hardy

‘In the Servants’ Quarters’ by Thomas Hardy speaks into a biblical story and gives the reader insight as to what Peter may have been feeling, and the pressure he was under at the time when he denied knowing Jesus.

'Man, you too, aren't you, one of these rough followers of the criminal?

All hanging hereabout to gather how he's going to bear

Examination in the hall.' She flung disdainful glances on

The shabby figure standing at the fire with others there,


by Thomas Hardy

How she would have loved

A party to-day! -

Bright-hatted and gloved,

With table and tray

Midnight on the Great Western

by Thomas Hardy

Thomas Hardy’s ‘Midnight on the Great Western’ is a powerful piece of poetry that examines the story of a young boy, traveling forward to an unknown destination from an unknown place.

In the third-class seat sat the journeying boy,

And the roof-lamp's oily flame

Played down on his listless form and face,

Bewrapt past knowing to what he was going,

Moments of Vision

by Thomas Hardy

‘Moments of Vision’ by Thomas Hardy describes the times in a person’s life in which they are forced to reflect on who they are and what they’ve done. 

             That mirror

         Which makes of men a transparency,

             Who holds that mirror

And bids us such a breast-bared spectacle to see

Neutral Tones

by Thomas Hardy

Thomas Hardy’s ‘Neutral Tones’ is about the neutrality of feelings and passivity of a lady. The beauty of this poem lies in the use of imagery and most importantly the colors.

We stood by a pond that winter day,

And the sun was white, as though chidden of God,

And a few leaves lay on the starving sod;

– They had fallen from an ash, and were gray.

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