A classic Hardy poem – analysed by Dr Oliver Tearle
‘Afterwards’ is one of Thomas Hardy’s most famous and widely anthologised poems. The poem was published in Hardy’s 1917 volume Moments of Vision. Like many of Hardy’s poems, it has received relatively little critical analysis – little when we consider that Hardy is thought of as one of the major writers of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
When the Present has latched its postern behind my tremulous stay,
And the May month flaps its glad green leaves like wings,
Delicate-filmed as new-spun silk, will the neighbours say,
‘He was a man who used to notice such things’?
If it be in the dusk when, like an eyelid’s soundless blink,
The dewfall-hawk comes crossing the shades to alight
Upon the wind-warped upland thorn, a gazer may think,
‘To him this must have been a familiar sight.’