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By Thomas Hardy

I

            In a solitude of the sea

            Deep from human vanity,

And the Pride of Life that planned her, stilly couches she.


II

            Steel chambers, late the pyres

            Of her salamandrine fires,

Cold currents thrid, and turn to rhythmic tidal lyres.


III

            Over the mirrors meant

            To glass the opulent

The sea-worm crawls — grotesque, slimed, dumb, indifferent.


IV

            Jewels in joy designed

            To ravish the sensuous mind

Lie lightless, all their sparkles bleared and black and blind.


V

            Dim moon-eyed fishes near

            Gaze at the gilded gear

And query: “What does this vaingloriousness down here?” …


VI

            Well: while was fashioning

            This creature of cleaving wing,

The Immanent Will that stirs and urges everything


VII

            Prepared a sinister mate

            For her — so gaily great —

A Shape of Ice, for the time far and dissociate.


VIII

            And as the smart ship grew

            In stature, grace, and hue,

In shadowy silent distance grew the Iceberg too.


IX

            Alien they seemed to be;

            No mortal eye could see

The intimate welding of their later history,


X

            Or sign that they were bent

            By paths coincident

On being anon twin halves of one august event,


XI

            Till the Spinner of the Years

            Said “Now!” And each one hears,

And consummation comes, and jars two hemispheres.


Poet Bio

Thomas Hardy was born in Dorset County, England, where he studied architecture, but he later quit to pursue a literary career. In order to gain financial stability, Hardy first published novels, including such classics as Tess of the D’Urbervilles and Jude the Obscure. Once he was well known and well off financially, he returned to poetry, his first love. Hardy’s dark, bleak verse was at odds with his Victorian contemporaries who tended to present more optimistic perspectives on life.

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