Standing by the Mantelpiece (H.M.M., 1873)
This candle-wax is shaping to a shroud
To-night. (They call it that, as you may know)–
By touching it the claimant is avowed,
And hence I press it with my finger–so.
To-night. To me twice night, that should have been
The radiance of the midmost tick of noon
And close around me wintertime is seen
That might have shone the veriest day of June!
But since all’s lost, and nothing really lies
Above but shade, and shadier shade below,
Let me make clear, before one of us dies,
My mind to yours, just now embittered so.
Since you agreed, unurged and full-advised,
And let warmth grow without discouragement,
Why do you bear you now as if surprised,
When what has come was clearly consequent?
Since you have spoken, and finality
Closes around, and my last movements loom,
I say no more: the rest must wait till we
Are face to face again, yonside the tomb.
And let the candle-wax thus mould a shape
Whose meaning now, if hid before, you know,
And how by touch one present claims its drape,
And that it’s I who press my finger–so.
Reproduced from James Gibson, ed. The Complete Poems of Thomas Hardy. New York: Macmillan, 1976. 887.