Thomas Hardy (1840–1928)

72 The Subalterns

Thomas Hardy


‘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.’


-‘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.’


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


-‘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!’


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.


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