I suspect that many of those who love Hardy's poetry feel as I do: no matter how long you have been reading him, there is always the expectation that, upon turning the page, a new discovery awaits you. Part of me wishes that I will never reach the end: I like the fact that uncharted territory lies before me.
Edward Bawden, "The Canmore Mountain Range" (1950)
Thus, for instance, I recently came across the following poem for the first time. It turns out that one line of it fits well with the astronomical theme of my previous post. And a lovely line it is.
I do not see the hills around,
Nor mark the tints the copses wear;
I do not note the grassy ground
And constellated daisies there.
I hear not the contralto note
Of cuckoos hid on either hand,
The whirr that shakes the nighthawk's throat
When eve's brown awning hoods the land.
Some say each songster, tree, and mead --
All eloquent of love divine --
Receives their constant careful heed:
Such keen appraisement is not mine.
The tones around me that I hear,
The aspects, meanings, shapes I see,
Are those far back ones missed when near,
And now perceived too late by me!
Thomas Hardy, Time's Laughingstocks and Other Verses (1909).
Many people know Hardy's poetry only through the anthology pieces: e.g., "During Wind and Rain," "The Darkling Thrush," "The Convergence of the Twain," "Channel Firing," "The Oxen," et cetera. But Hardy's depth, expansiveness, and charm only become apparent if one immerses oneself in the hundreds of poems that fill in the interstices of his universe -- and it is indeed an entire universe.
Like those hundreds of other poems, "The Rambler" states a truth about life; a small truth, perhaps, but one we all have felt. (Which is not to say that it is meant to instruct or to edify. Hardy was above all an intent and penetrating onlooker, not a moral instructor.) In addition (for one reader, at least), it contains a beautiful image that, once seen, can never be forgotten: "constellated daisies." In Hardy's poetry, there is no end of these small, beautiful, and humanly truthful revelations.
Edward Bawden, "Emma Nelson by the Fire" (1987)
"Constellated daisies" brings to mind a poem by Andrew Young that has appeared here before, but is worth revisiting (even if it is not the daisy time of year). Heavenly bodies again make an appearance.
The stars are everywhere to-night,
Above, beneath me and around;
They fill the sky with powdery light
And glimmer from the night-strewn ground;
For where the folded daisies are
In every one I see a star.
And so I know that when I pass
Where no sun's shadow counts the hours
And where the sky was there is grass
And where the stars were there are flowers,
Through the long night in which I lie
Stars will be shining in my sky.
Andrew Young, Collected Poems (Rupert Hart-Davis 1960).
Harald Sohlberg, "Flower Meadow in the North" (1905)