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Thomas Hardy (1840–1928). Wessex Poems and Other Verses. 1898.

17. Ditty

BENEATH a knap where flown

Nestlings play,

Within walls of weathered stone,

Far away

From the files of formal houses,

By the bough the firstling browses,

Lives a Sweet: no merchants meet,

No man barters, no man sells

Where she dwells.

Upon that fabric fair

“Here is she!”

Seems written everywhere

Unto me.

But to friends and nodding neighbors,

Fellow wights in lot and labors,

Who descry the times as I,

No such lucid legend tells

Where she dwells.

Should I lapse to what I was

In days by—

(Such cannot be, but because

Some loves die

Let me feign it)—none would notice

That where she I know by rote is

Spread a strange and withering change,

Like a drying of the wells

Where she dwells.

To feel I might have kissed—

Loved as true—

Otherwhere, nor Mine have missed

My life through,

Had I never wandered near her,

Is a smart severe—severer

In the thought that she is nought,

Even as I, beyond the dells

Where she dwells.

And Devotion droops her glance

To recall

What bond-servants of Chance

We are all.

I but found her in that, going

On my errant path unknowing,

I did not out-skirt the spot

That no spot on earth excels—

Where she dwells!