Thomas Hardy (1840–1928)

The Subalterns

Thomas Hardy

[1]

I
‘Poor wanderer,’ said the leaden sky,
‘I fain[2] would lighten thee,
But there are laws in force on high
Which say it must not be.’

II

-‘I would not freeze thee, shorn one,’ cried
The North, ‘knew I but how
To warm my breath, to slack my stride;
But I am ruled as thou.’

III

-‘To-morrow I attack thee, wight,’
Said Sickness. ‘Yet I swear
I bear thy little ark no spite,
But am bid enter there.’

IV

-‘Come hither, Son,’ I heard Death say;
‘I did not will a grave
Should end thy pilgrimage to-day,
But I, too, am a slave!’

V

We smiled upon each other then,
And life to me had less
Of that fell look it wore ere when
They owned their passiveness.

— 1901


  1. A person holding a subordinate position. In the British Army, an officer ranked below captain.
  2. Gladly.

License

Icon for the Public Domain license

This work (The Subalterns by Thomas Hardy) is free of known copyright restrictions.

Share This Book