Afterwards by Thomas Hardy


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 out-rollings,
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

A reading by Jeremy Irons with music by Jon Lord:

About Russell Boyle

Russell Boyle is a mathematics teacher, writer, and poet. His poetry anthologies are titled The Beginning, Footprints and Loneliness. Russell is the author of the Year 7 to 8 Mathematics Short-Answer Tasks, the Year 7 to 10 Mathematics Multiple-Choice Tasks, the Year 9 to 10 Extended-Response Tasks, the solutions to the Year 12 VCAA Mathematics Exams and the Web-Programming For Beginners series of courses. Sample poems and questions may be downloaded from
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7 Responses to Afterwards by Thomas Hardy

  1. Aquileana says:

    Marvelous poem by Hardy and outstanding reading by Irons, dear Russell.
    Thank you very much for sharing.
    Best wishes, Aquileana 😀

  2. Tom Gething says:

    Such a great poem, and a fine reading. It would be wonderful if Irons read more of Hardy’s poems. On a separate note, I don’t know how, but I somehow fell off as one of your followers (must have been my fat thumbs touching the IPad in the wrong place), anyway I have some catching up to do.

    • russellboyle says:

      Oh, I do agree with your comment re Jeremy Irons. His voice matches the brilliance of Hardy’s verse. And I know only too well how easy it is to inadvertently unfollow. Welcome back

  3. cindy knoke says:

    Fabulous! Love Hardy and am reading him now!

  4. renxkyoko says:

    The reading is great !

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