The Place On The Map

A poem by Thomas Hardy


I look upon the map that hangs by me -
Its shires and towns and rivers lined in varnished artistry -
And I mark a jutting height
Coloured purple, with a margin of blue sea.


'Twas a day of latter summer, hot and dry;
Ay, even the waves seemed drying as we walked on, she and I,
By this spot where, calmly quite,
She informed me what would happen by and by.


This hanging map depicts the coast and place,
And resuscitates therewith our unexpected troublous case
All distinctly to my sight,
And her tension, and the aspect of her face.


Weeks and weeks we had loved beneath that blazing blue,
Which had lost the art of raining, as her eyes to-day had too,
While she told what, as by sleight,
Shot our firmament with rays of ruddy hue.


For the wonder and the wormwood of the whole
Was that what in realms of reason would have joyed our double soul
Wore a torrid tragic light
Under order-keeping's rigorous control.


So, the map revives her words, the spot, the time,
And the thing we found we had to face before the next year's prime;
The charted coast stares bright,
And its episode comes back in pantomime.

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