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Her Immortality
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Thomas Hardy (1898)
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Upon a noon I pilgrimed through
   A pasture, mile by mile,
Unto the place where last I saw
   My dead Love’s living smile.

And sorrowing I lay me down
   Upon the heated sod:
It seemed as if my body pressed
   The very ground she trod.

I lay, and thought; and in a trance
   She came and stood thereby —
The same, even to the marvellous ray
   That used to light her eye.

“You draw me, and I come to you,
   My faithful one,” she said,
In voice that had the moving tone
   It bore ere she was wed.

“Seven years have circled since I died:
   Few now remember me;
My husband clasps another bride:
   My children’s love has she.

“My brethren, sisters, and my friends
   Care not to meet my sprite:
Who prized me most I did not know
   Till I passed down from sight.”

I said: “My days are lonely here;
   I need thy smile alway:
I’ll use this night my ball or blade,
   And join thee ere the day.”

A tremor stirred her tender lips,
   Which parted to dissuade:
“That cannot be, O friend,” she cried;
   “Think, I am but a Shade!

“A Shade but in its mindful ones
   Has immortality;
By living, me you keep alive,
   By dying you slay me.

“In you resides my single power
   Of sweet continuance here;
On your fidelity I count
   Through many a coming year.”

— I started through me at her plight,
   So suddenly confessed:
Dismissing late distaste for life,
   I craved its bleak unrest.

“I will not die, my One of all! —
   To lengthen out thy days
I’ll guard me from minutest harms
   That may invest my ways!”

She smiled and went. Since then she comes
   Oft when her birth-moon climbs,
Or at the seasons’ ingresses,
   Or anniversary times;

But grows my grief. When I surcease,
   Through whom alone lives she,
Her spirit ends its living lease,
   Never again to be!




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