Saturday, December 25, 2010

"Yuletide In A Younger World"

Thomas Hardy was not always the cheeriest of characters.  (How's that for an understatement?)  However, he did seem to have a bit of (just a bit of) a soft spot in his heart for Christmas.  Still, ghosts and beggars do make appearances in some of his Christmas poems.  The following poem was written by Hardy when he was in his eighties -- it has no frightful ghosts, just fondly-remembered wraiths from Christmases past.

              Yuletide in a Younger World

   We believed in highdays then,
      And could glimpse at night
         On Christmas Eve
Imminent oncomings of radiant revel --
      Doings of delight: --
      Now we have no such sight.

   We had eyes for phantoms then,
      And at bridge or stile
         On Christmas Eve
Clear beheld those countless ones who had crossed it
      Cross again in file: --
      Such has ceased longwhile!

   We liked divination then,
      And, as they homeward wound
         On Christmas Eve,
We could read men's dreams within them spinning
      Even as wheels spin round: --
      Now we are blinker-bound.

   We heard still small voices then,
      And, in the dim serene
         Of Christmas Eve,
Caught the far-time tones of fire-filled prophets
      Long on earth unseen. . . .
      -- Can such ever have been?

Thomas Hardy, Winter Words in Various Moods and Metres (1928).

                                       Robin Tanner, "Christmas" (1929)


PAL said...

Mr Pentz: This is just to add another appreciative voice to those of others in the last few days, and to echo their sentiments.

Stephen Pentz said...

PAL: Your very kind words -- and your long-time interest in, and support of, my efforts -- are greatly appreciated. I always enjoy your ever-thoughtful observations. Thank you again for your visits and comments, and I look forward to having you along in the future.