The Supplanter: A Tale


He bends his travel-tarnished feet
  To where she wastes in clay:
From day-dawn until eve he fares
  Along the wintry way;
From day-dawn until eve repairs
  Unto her mound to pray.


"Are these the gravestone shapes that meet
  My forward-straining view?
Or forms that cross a window-blind
  In circle, knot, and queue:
Gay forms, that cross and whirl and wind
  To music throbbing through?" -


"The Keeper of the Field of Tombs
  Dwells by its gateway-pier;
He celebrates with feast and dance
  His daughter's twentieth year:
He celebrates with wine of France
  The birthday of his dear." -


"The gates are shut when evening glooms:
  Lay down your wreath, sad wight;
To-morrow is a time more fit
  For placing flowers aright:
The morning is the time for it;
  Come, wake with us to-night!" -


He grounds his wreath, and enters in,
  And sits, and shares their cheer. -
"I fain would foot with you, young man,
  Before all others here;
I fain would foot it for a span
  With such a cavalier!"


She coaxes, clasps, nor fails to win
  His first-unwilling hand:
The merry music strikes its staves,
  The dancers quickly band;
And with the damsel of the graves
  He duly takes his stand.


"You dance divinely, stranger swain,
  Such grace I've never known.
O longer stay! Breathe not adieu
  And leave me here alone!
O longer stay: to her be true
  Whose heart is all your own!" -


"I mark a phantom through the pane,
  That beckons in despair,
Its mouth all drawn with heavy moan -
  Her to whom once I sware!" -
"Nay; 'tis the lately carven stone
  Of some strange girl laid there!" -


"I see white flowers upon the floor
  Betrodden to a clot;
My wreath were they?"--"Nay; love me much,
  Swear you'll forget me not!
'Twas but a wreath! Full many such
  Are brought here and forgot."

* * *


The watches of the night grow hoar,
  He rises ere the sun;
"Now could I kill thee here!" he says,
  "For winning me from one
Who ever in her living days
  Was pure as cloistered nun!"


She cowers, and he takes his track
  Afar for many a mile,
For evermore to be apart
  From her who could beguile
His senses by her burning heart,
  And win his love awhile.


A year: and he is travelling back
  To her who wastes in clay;
From day-dawn until eve he fares
  Along the wintry way,
From day-dawn until eve repairs
  Unto her mound to pray.


And there he sets him to fulfil
  His frustrate first intent:
And lay upon her bed, at last,
  The offering earlier meant:
When, on his stooping figure, ghast
  And haggard eyes are bent.


"O surely for a little while
  You can be kind to me!
For do you love her, do you hate,
  She knows not--cares not she:
Only the living feel the weight
  Of loveless misery!


"I own my sin; I've paid its cost,
  Being outcast, shamed, and bare:
I give you daily my whole heart,
  Your babe my tender care,
I pour you prayers; and aye to part
  Is more than I can bear!"


He turns--unpitying, passion-tossed;
  "I know you not!" he cries,
"Nor know your child. I knew this maid,
  But she's in Paradise!"
And swiftly in the winter shade
  He breaks from her and flies.

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Thomas Hardy

Thomas Hardy, was a Scottish Minister, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland and Professor of Eccesiastical History at Edinburgh University. more…

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"The Supplanter: A Tale" STANDS4 LLC, 2020. Web. 24 May 2020. <>.

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