He Follows Himself

A poem by Thomas Hardy

In a heavy time I dogged myself
Along a louring way,
Till my leading self to my following self
Said: "Why do you hang on me
So harassingly?"

"I have watched you, Heart of mine," I cried,
"So often going astray
And leaving me, that I have pursued,
Feeling such truancy
Ought not to be."

He said no more, and I dogged him on
From noon to the dun of day
By prowling paths, until anew
He begged: "Please turn and flee! -
What do you see?"

"Methinks I see a man," said I,
"Dimming his hours to gray.
I will not leave him while I know
Part of myself is he
Who dreams such dree!"

"I go to my old friend's house," he urged,
"So do not watch me, pray!"
"Well, I will leave you in peace," said I,
"Though of this poignancy
You should fight free:

"Your friend, O other me, is dead;
You know not what you say."
- "That do I! And at his green-grassed door
By night's bright galaxy
I bend a knee."

- The yew-plumes moved like mockers' beards,
Though only boughs were they,
And I seemed to go; yet still was there,
And am, and there haunt we
Thus bootlessly.

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