Monday, September 29, 2008

Classic Ghosts: Thomas Hardy

Ah, Are You Digging My Grave?
By Thomas Hardy (1840-1928 )
Ah, are you digging on my grave
My loved one? planting rue?
''No: yesterday he went to wed
One of the brightest wealth has bred.
"It cannot hurt her now", he said,
"That I should not be true."

Then who is digging on my grave?
My nearest dearest kin?
Ah, no; they sit and think, "What use!
What good will planting flowers produce?
No tendance of her mound can loose
Her spirit from Death's gin."

But some one digs upon my grave?
My enemy? prodding sly?
''Nay: when she heard you had passed the Gate
That shuts on all flesh soon or late,
She thought you no more worth her hate,
And cares not where you lie."

Then, who is digging on my grave?
Say since I have not guessed !
''O it is I, my mistress dear,
Your little dog, who still lives near,
And much I hope my movements here
Have not disturbed your rest?"

Ah, yes! You dig upon my grave . . .
Why flashed it not on me
That one true heart was left behind!
What feeling do we ever find
To equal among human kind
A dog's fidelity !

"Mistress, I dug upon your grave
To bury a bone,
in caseI should be hungry near this spot
When passing on my daily trot.
am sorry, but I quite forgot
It was your resting-place."

Ah well. A bit twisted, but perhaps more true than we'd like to think! Thomas Hardy certainly had a wry way of looking at people and their efforts anyway. And yet two of his books, Return of the Native and Tess of the D'Urbervilles, are still among my most favorite books. Perhaps because he saw so keenly into the human heart and the vanity of our hopes?


  1. Oh, that's a pretty cool one! I'm really attracted to the cadence he uses in the poem. And the subject matter, of course!

  2. if it had been my dog, he probably would have peed on my grave, or worse.

  3. Ha! You're right in Hardy's league, Tommy!

  4. Hi Sue,
    I've got something for you on my blog.
    :) Tracey

  5. This is great, especially for me who just recently "discovered" poetry.

    I've really been getting into Goethe...wonderful stuff! The more I read, the more I like. I can just picture my ancestors (or incestors, as the case may be)hunkering in fear of Der Erlkonig (The Erlking). Good stuff.

    Thanks for posting, Granny. Any suggestions of a good poetry book for beginners?


  6. OK Tracey, I'll be right over!

    Matthew, you would really enjoy Ted Kooser's poetry. He's down-to-earth, clear and yet there is depth and surprised realization when you read his poems. I think you'd like him. He was the US Poet Laureate twice. You might also like Louise McNeill Pease--she was WV's Poet Laureate and a lot of her poems are about the part of WV where you live. Also Diane Gillam Fisher--great stuff, especially her book Kettle Bottom about the mines.

  7. Susanna,
    Yes I've read Kettle Bottom and all the Louise McNeill books (I didn't have choice with Jason for a brother!!).

    I will check out Ted Kooser. Shirley suggests Walt Whitman. I really know very little about poetry, so it's all new to me. I'm looking for a good compilation of American poetry so I can get a taste of everyone. Didn't you write a poetry book, too?

    Thanks for the suggestions.

  8. I did do a couple of chapbooks Matthew. The latest is called Lives, Unheralded and Appalachian Heritage magazine is including it in their fall bibliography of Appalachian books. Too cool! I expect the orders to pour in--not.

  9. Granny,
    Post info about the book on your blog along with order info. I know I'm interested.
    I read a ghost story of yours when I was at Jason's last month. Very good. I can remember the name of the book, but the story was about a little girl who helped an old witchy woman, who eventually dies but takes over the body of the girl (I know that is the cliffs notes version). Very good story.

  10. Self-Rising Flowers was the name of the book. I just remember it as soon as I posted my last comment.

  11. Good idea, Matthew. I seldom promote my own stuff here. Maybe it's time for a small commercial.

    The story you're talking about is called Gracie's Cabin. I wrote it some time back, and don't tell it very often. For some reason, telling it just drains me--odd, that. Like singing West Virginia Mine Disaster, it's the same thing. Really difficult and tiring to do, yet I love it.

  12. For anyone interested, a major theater company in Cambridge, MA is producing a Thomas Hardy-inspired "Christmas Revels" at Harvard University's Sanders Theatre, December 12-30. This musical winter solstice celebration is set in Hardy's beloved Wessex and features The Mellstock Band from England. The Christmas Revels is a beloved holiday tradition in 10 cities across the country. Tickets and information on this year's Christmas Revels in Cambridge, MA can be found at


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