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

44. At an Inn

WHEN we as strangers sought

Their catering care,

Veiled smiles bespoke their thought

Of what we were.

They warmed as they opined

Us more than friends—

That we had all resigned

For love’s dear ends.

And that swift sympathy

With living love

Which quicks the world—maybe

The spheres above,

Made them our ministers,

Moved them to say,

“Ah, God, that bliss like theirs

Would flush our day!”

And we were left alone

As Love’s own pair;

Yet never the love-light shone

Between us there!

But that which chilled the breath

Of afternoon,

And palsied unto death

The pane-fly’s tune.

The kiss their zeal foretold,

And now deemed come,

Came not: within his hold

Love lingered numb.

Why cast he on our port

A bloom not ours?

Why shaped us for his sport

In after-hours?

As we seemed we were not

That day afar,

And now we seem not what

We aching are.

O severing sea and land,

O laws of men,

Ere death, once let us stand

As we stood then!