The Widow

A poem by Thomas Hardy

By Mellstock Lodge and Avenue
Towards her door I went,
And sunset on her window-panes
Reflected our intent.

The creeper on the gable nigh
Was fired to more than red
And when I came to halt thereby
"Bright as my joy!" I said.

Of late days it had been her aim
To meet me in the hall;
Now at my footsteps no one came;
And no one to my call.

Again I knocked; and tardily
An inner step was heard,
And I was shown her presence then
With scarce an answering word.

She met me, and but barely took
My proffered warm embrace;
Preoccupation weighed her look,
And hardened her sweet face.

"To-morrow - could you - would you call?
Make brief your present stay?
My child is ill - my one, my all! -
And can't be left to-day."

And then she turns, and gives commands
As I were out of sound,
Or were no more to her and hers
Than any neighbour round . . .

- As maid I wooed her; but one came
And coaxed her heart away,
And when in time he wedded her
I deemed her gone for aye.

He won, I lost her; and my loss
I bore I know not how;
But I do think I suffered then
Less wretchedness than now.

For Time, in taking him, had oped
An unexpected door
Of bliss for me, which grew to seem
Far surer than before . . .

Her word is steadfast, and I know
That plighted firm are we:
But she has caught new love-calls since
She smiled as maid on me!

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