The Cheval-Glass

A poem by Thomas Hardy

Why do you harbour that great cheval-glass
Filling up your narrow room?
You never preen or plume,
Or look in a week at your full-length figure -
Picture of bachelor gloom!

"Well, when I dwelt in ancient England,
Renting the valley farm,
Thoughtless of all heart-harm,
I used to gaze at the parson's daughter,
A creature of nameless charm.

"Thither there came a lover and won her,
Carried her off from my view.
O it was then I knew
Misery of a cast undreamt of -
More than, indeed, my due!

"Then far rumours of her ill-usage
Came, like a chilling breath
When a man languisheth;
Followed by news that her mind lost balance,
And, in a space, of her death.

"Soon sank her father; and next was the auction -
Everything to be sold:
Mid things new and old
Stood this glass in her former chamber,
Long in her use, I was told.

"Well, I awaited the sale and bought it . . .
There by my bed it stands,
And as the dawn expands
Often I see her pale-faced form there
Brushing her hair's bright bands.

"There, too, at pallid midnight moments
Quick she will come to my call,
Smile from the frame withal
Ponderingly, as she used to regard me
Passing her father's wall.

"So that it was for its revelations
I brought it oversea,
And drag it about with me . . .
Anon I shall break it and bury its fragments
Where my grave is to be."

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