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"?
If it be in the dusk when, like an eyelid's soundless blink,
The dewfall-hawk comes crossing the shades to alight
Upon the wind-warped upland thorn, a gazer may think,
"To him this must have been a familiar sight."
If I pass during some nocturnal blackness, mothy and warm,
When the hedgehog travels furtively over the lawn,
One may say, "He strove that such innocent creatures should come to no harm,
But he could do little for them; and now he is gone."
If, when hearing that I have been stilled at last, they stand. at the door,
Watching the full-starred heavens that winter sees,
Will this thought rise on those who will meet my face no more,
"He was one who had an eye for such mysteries"?
And will any say when my bell of quittance1 is heard in the gloom,  Church bell tolling for the dead
And a crossing breeze cuts a pause in its out-rollings,
Till they rise again, as they were a new bell's boom,
"He hears it not now, but used to notice such things"?
First published as the final poem in Moments of Vision (London: Macmillan, 1917), when Hardy was 77. Transcribed from Edward B. Powley, A Hundred Years of English Poetry. St. Martin's Classics. Toronto: Macmillan, 1933. Pp. 103-4. Checked against The Works of Thomas Hardy (Ware, Hertfordshire: Wordsworth, 1994), p. 521 [PVA].
- Reading and Discussion Questions
- A Reading of "Afterwards"
- Selected Bibliography for the Study of Hardy's Poetry
Last modified 8 April 2005