The Phantom Horsewoman



                        Queer are the ways of a man I know:

                                    He comes and stands

                                    In a careworn craze,

                                    And looks at the sands

                                    And the seaward haze

                                    With moveless hands

                                    And face and gaze,

                                    Then turns to go…

                        And what does he see when he gazes so?



                        They say he sees as an instant thing

                                    More clear than to-day,

                                    A sweet soft scene

                                    That was once in play

                                    By that briny green;

                                    Yes, notes always

                                    Warm, real, and keen,

                                    What his back years bring—



                        Of this vision of his they might say more:

                                    Not only there

                                    Does he see this sight,

                                    But everywhere

                                    In his brain—day, night,

                                    As if on the air

                                    It were drawn rose-bright—

                                    Yea, far from that shore

                        Does he carry this vision of heretofore:



                        A ghost-girl-rider.  And though, toil-tried,

                                    He withers daily,

                                    Time touches her not,

                                    But she still rides gaily

                                    In his rapt thought

                                    On that shagged and shaly

                                    Atlantic spot,

                                    And as when first eyed

                        Draws rein and sings to the swing of the tide.



Reproduced from James Gibson, ed. The Complete Poems of Thomas Hardy. New York: Macmillan, 1976. 353-354.