I Rose Up As My Custom Is

A poem by Thomas Hardy

I rose up as my custom is
On the eve of All-Souls' day,
And left my grave for an hour or so
To call on those I used to know
Before I passed away.

I visited my former Love
As she lay by her husband's side;
I asked her if life pleased her, now
She was rid of a poet wrung in brow,
And crazed with the ills he eyed;

Who used to drag her here and there
Wherever his fancies led,
And point out pale phantasmal things,
And talk of vain vague purposings
That she discredited.

She was quite civil, and replied,
"Old comrade, is that you?
Well, on the whole, I like my life. -
I know I swore I'd be no wife,
But what was I to do?

"You see, of all men for my sex
A poet is the worst;
Women are practical, and they
Crave the wherewith to pay their way,
And slake their social thirst.

"You were a poet quite the ideal
That we all love awhile:
But look at this man snoring here -
He's no romantic chanticleer,
Yet keeps me in good style.

"He makes no quest into my thoughts,
But a poet wants to know
What one has felt from earliest days,
Why one thought not in other ways,
And one's Loves of long ago."

Her words benumbed my fond frail ghost;
The nightmares neighed from their stalls
The vampires screeched, the harpies flew,
And under the dim dawn I withdrew
To Death's inviolate halls.

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