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Friday 14 March 2014

Thomas Hardy: Afterwards


01671. concentrated cornish coloration hues (flock of starlings... I think): photo by Junk Male (borrowed_time), 9 November 2007 

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 quittance is heard in the gloom,
..And a crossing breeze cuts a pause in its outrollings,
Till they rise again, as they were a new bell's boom,
.."He hears it not now, but used to notice such things"?

Thomas Hardy (1840-1928): Afterwards, from Moments of Vision, 1917

02067 [Untitled]: photo by Junk Male (borrowed_time), 21 February 2008

01786. concentrated cornish coloration hues: photo by Junk Male (borrowed_time), 3 December 2007

01719. concentrated cornish coloration hues: photo by Junk Male (borrowed_time), 26 November 2007


01819. concentrated cornish coloration hues: photo by Junk Male (borrowed_time), 23 December 2007

01812. concentrated cornish coloration hues: photo by Junk Male (borrowed_time), 21 December 2007

01715. concentrated cornish coloration hues: photo by Junk Male (borrowed_time), 24 November 2007

01815. concentrated cornish coloration hues...first light this day, clouds of foreboding set the mood: photo by Junk Male (borrowed_time), 22 December 2007

01760. concentrated cornish coloration hues: photo by Junk Male (borrowed_time), 5 December 2007

01765. concentrated cornish coloration hues: photo by Junk Male (borrowed_time), 7 December 2007

02155. this land: photo by Junk Male (borrowed_time), 28 March 2008

01766. concentrated cornish coloration hues: photo by Junk Male (borrowed_time), 8 December 2007

01776. concentrated cornish coloration hues: photo by Junk Male (borrowed_time), 10 December 2007

01730. concentrated cornish coloration hues: photo by Junk Male (borrowed_time), 28 November 2007

02209. this land... copse: photo by Junk Male (borrowed_time), 2 May 2008

01628. like a lamb growing into a world of wolves, i will trust until proven wrong: photo by Junk Male (borrowed_time), 29 November 2007

02115. We met this lovely old boy on the beach yesterday, we talked as the english do, about the weather, it was cold with brief showers, he said, in a broad Irish accent that he was there with his sister she was worried that he shouldn't be out when it was so cold, he then said "whats a drop of rain when you have had 90,000 germans trying to kill you", hahaha, wonderful old guy...: photo by Junk Male (borrowed_time), 10 March 2008

02117. Polkerris Bay...Cornwall: photo by Junk Male (borrowed_time), 10 March 2008

02164. this long and narrow land... Roche, Cornwall: photo by Junk Male (borrowed_time), 4 April 2008

02159. this long and narrow land... Roche, Cornwall: photo by Junk Male (borrowed_time), 31 March 2008

02200 [Untitled]: photo by Junk Male (borrowed_time), 22 April 2008

02224. hospice notes... the gardens: photo by Junk Male (borrowed_time), 14 May 2008

05069. this land... cornwall: photo by Junk Male (borrowed_time), 21 September 2008

01853. this long and narrow land... hampshire: photo by Junk Male (borrowed_time), 30 December 2007


TC said...

The late great photographer Stephen Harrison of Fowey, Cornwall took these pictures in the harrowing final year of a long struggle with cancer. This post is dedicated to his memory.

One of the best of Thomas Hardy's modern editors, the poet Robert Mezey, has provided some notes on Afterwards:

1. postern: back gate of a garden [rare]

2. dewfall-hawk: not the name of the hawk but an epithet which, like the eyelid's blink, figures the alighting of the hawk. (A couple of editors have confidently identified this creature as a moth, but that cannot possibly be right. Would any competent poet write of a moth that it "comes crossing the shades to alight / Upon the wind-warped upland thorn"? In any case, James Gibson has identified it as the nightjar, that settles it.) As for comparing the approach of the hawk to an eyelid's soundless blink, is there a better simile in English poetry?

3. quittance: The word strongly suggests leaving or ceasing; in fact, it means release, or discharge of a debt, or the fulfilling of an obligation, or recompense, or reprisal. [arch.]

4. The sound of outrollings is choice, the pronunciation slightly distorted by the meter and rhyme, which requires an accent on the final syllable.

Finally, to those good friends who have expressed concern over the mysterious disappearance of this blog during the past week, we here would like to relay our gratitude. It's been a difficult time, and I've been out of bed only for an encounter with the American medical system. (Lots of luck with that.) Anyhow, the long and short of it is, I've now been assisted by two great gone artists, a poet and a photographer, in rising from beyond the pale of the ash-heap to emit this world-shaking... whatever..

Nin Andrews said...

Beautiful--all the way around, poem, post, and note. So glad you are back and I hope you are feeling better. American medical system indeed.

Be the BQE said...

Great to have you back with this beautiful poem and photograph pairing. You are truly a man who notices these things. I love all the photographs but if I had to pick a new Hardy Poems book cover, I'd go with the final shot.


ACravan said...

Thank you for this wonderful gift; BTP always makes me see things (old things/new things) in new ways. This was really special and it felt right when I saw that Hardy's Selected Poems with Robert Mezey's notes were just across my desk. Reach and grasp were, for a change, well calibrated and cooperating. There's an annoying business-speak expression used these days -- "a deep dive" -- supposedly meaning an in-depth analysis undertaken by deeply intelligent and thoughtful people, who invariably give the impression of being all talk and no work. BTP is really a deep dive. I'm not expert enough to know whether or not there is a better simile in English poetry than dewfall-hawk, but I'm willing to take this on faith. It's a great simile. Curtis

Mose23 said...

This world shaking whatver is beautiful. "Dewfall-hawk" brings Gerard Manley Hopkins to mind.

Tom, here's to you who still notices these things.

Michael Peverett said...

Amazing poem, and photos, and post: thank you.... and hope you're out of the ash heap.

I love the artistry of how each stanza finds a different way to say "will they think" . Hardy's poem proposes a scale of self-esteem based on noticing the natural world. Many people must identify with that, I know I do. And then I meditate on whether the scale is an illusion, unless one's livelihood comes from nature, and how can there be a moral value to noticing a sky, when it surely makes me less observant of things that others consider more important?

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

Hardy, Harrison, and Clark.

We have much to be grateful for. Lovely, truly lovely, all around.


Hazen said...

To have an eye for such things as we find here . . . many thanks, Tom. Harrison and Hardy are perfectly matched. And among the many great photographs, 01765 does it for me.

Dalriada said...

Am reminded of my 3 years (off and on) when at Art College in Cornwall ... when the world was in short trousers Wha? When did I get old?

Best wishes Tom

Dalriada said...

The nightjar can make a sound however Hear here:

Jonathan Chant said...

Very pleased to see you back. You have been missed. Brush that ash off as quick as you can.

Hilton said...

Tom, Get well, and keep seeing and believing. Hilton

Carol Peters said...

missed you

TC said...

Lovely to have such fine and kind friends, and to hear the lovely song of the nightjar.

"Nightjars are nocturnal birds and can be seen hawking for food at dusk and dawn. With pointed wings and a long tails their shape is similar to a kestrel or cuckoo. Their cryptic, grey-brown, mottled, streaked and barred plumage provides ideal camouflage in the daytime. They have an almost supernatural reputation with their silent flight and their mythical ability to steal milk from goats. The first indication that a nightjar is near is usually the male's churring song, rising and falling with a ventriloquial quality."

Michael's rather profound question goes straight to the heart of the matter of the post.

Both Michael and Jonathan are authorities here, denizens of Hardy Country -- approximately as close as I am to that now booming tech capital toward which Dionne Warwick once famously asked to be shown the way.

No, closer.

Noticing what's around one curiously changes from an option to a necessity when intense pain enters the picture.

The mind can be a dangerous creature at such times, and so it's very important to give it something relatively salutary to dwell upon.

Easier said than done but still, just saying.

It feels a bit wrong to dare to speak of pain when one has spent some time with the images created by Stephen Harrison.

I have for obvious reasons elected to show only that aspect of his work which relates to this post -- things Thomas Hardy might conceivably also have noticed.

But there is more. He is one of the original truthful street photographers, and his photographic log of his oncology clinic and hospice experiences is wrenching stuff.

People aren't born courageous, but somehow, it seems, some do rise to that virtue; and when that happens, it is a beautiful thing to behold, through the tears.

Yes, that extremely affecting final shot. And 01765 -- all the abundance in the world, what we are somehow given, really for no good reason at all.

Hazen said...

every moment passes
dies away
but this one . . .
this one stays, lives on
adheres to consciousness
takes root in the heart
graces a lifetime . . .
its quality
unlike others in the stream
a note sounded just once
possessing infinite sustain . . .
to hear it is to wake up in time

Jonathan Chant said...

I saw my first nightingale on King Barrow, Alderholt on the Hampshire/Dorset border. I didn't know what a nightingale was, but fortunately I was in the company of Rodney Legg, the county historian. Your fine post brings this memory back to me.

Jonathan Chant said...

I mean nightjar...

Nora said...

Glad you're back.

vazambam (Vassilis Zambaras) said...

What a comeback!

TC said...

Thanks all.

Hardy in Cornwall:

Thomas Hardy: At Castle Boterel

Thomas Hardy: The Walk

The lineage:

Robert Creeley: Versions (after Hardy)