She Who Saw Not

A poem by Thomas Hardy

"Did you see something within the house
That made me call you before the red sunsetting?
Something that all this common scene endows
With a richened impress there can be no forgetting?"

" I have found nothing to see therein,
O Sage, that should have made you urge me to enter,
Nothing to fire the soul, or the sense to win:
I rate you as a rare misrepresenter!"

" Go anew, Lady, in by the right . . .
Well: why does your face not shine like the face of Moses?"
" I found no moving thing there save the light
And shadow flung on the wall by the outside roses."

" Go yet once more, pray. Look on a seat."
" I go . . . O Sage, it's only a man that sits there
With eyes on the sun. Mute, average head to feet."
" No more?" "No more. Just one the place befits there,

"As the rays reach in through the open door,
And he looks at his hand, and the sun glows through his fingers,
While he's thinking thoughts whose tenour is no more
To me than the swaying rose-tree shade that lingers."

No more. And years drew on and on
Till no sun came, dank fogs the house enfolding;
And she saw inside, when the form in the flesh had gone,
As a vision what she had missed when the real beholding.

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