March 9 Thomas Hardy

In March 1913, over forty years after his adventure in “Lyonesse”, the ageing poet, now a widower, looked back with nostalgic regret, sharpened by a subsequent estrangement, to those happy days of early love.

O the opal and the sapphire of that wandering western sea,
And the woman riding high above with bright hair flapping free –
The woman whom I loved so, and who loyally loved me.

The pale mews plained below us, and the waves seemed far away
In a nether sky, engrossed in saying their ceaseless babbling say,
And we laughed light-heartedly aloft on that clear-sunned March day.

A little cloud then cloaked us, and there flew an irised rain,
And the Atlantic dyed its levels with a dull misfeatured stain,
And then the sun burst out again, and purples prinked the main.

Still in all its chasmal beauty bulks old Beeny to the sky,
And shall she and I not go there once again now March is nigh,
And the sweet things said in that March say anew there by and by?

What if still in chasmal beauty looms that wild weird western shore,
The woman now is – elsewhere – whom the ambling pony bore,
And nor knows nor cares for Beeny, and will laugh there nevermore.

Characteristic of Hardy’s poetry is his inclusion of some unusual words: ” purples prinked the main” – purple colours brightened the sea; while the phrase “chasmal beauty” applied to Beeny reminds us that the dark cliff of purple slate is reputedly the highest in Cornwall.
Beeny Cliff
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