September 15th, 2021


TV Watch: Thomas Hardy: Fate, Exclusion and Tragedy

I found this excellent little programme on Sky Arts TV yesterday evening. It dealt mainly with the period after the death of Hardy’s first wife, Emma when, overcome with grief and remorse (he had treated her badly), he wrote some of his greatest poetry. The talk was serious, more like a radio programme with pictures than the usual TV talking heads and pointless visuals. There was a commentary over the rolling credits at the end which had me wondering who the writer was. It was Virginia Woolf. All the contributors had something interesting to say and I enjoyed it very much. I just wish I could convince more people that Hardy was not just a doom-monger and also that he was one of our greatest poets.

Beeny Cliff

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,
As 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.