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.
Your eyes on me were as eyes that rove
Over tedious riddles of years ago;
And some words played between us to and fro
On which lost the more by our love.
The smile on your mouth was the deadest thing
Alive enough to have strength to die;
And a grin of bitterness swept thereby
Like an ominous bird a-wing. . . .
Since then, keen lessons that love deceives,
And wrings with wrong, have shaped to me
Your face, and the God-curst sun, and a tree,
And a pond edged with grayish leaves.
Dates attached to Hardy's poems are the dates of composition, whenever these can be documented. In this case, composition is dated to 1867. The poem was apparently written at 16 Westbourne Park Villas, London. First published in Wessex Poems and Other Verses (London: Macmillan, Sept. 1898). Checked against The Works of Thomas Hardy (Ware, Hertfordshire: Wordsworth, 1994), p. 9 [PVA].
Last modified 29 July 2004