New York: Peter Lang, 1999. [In the following essay, Lanzano discusses how Hardy e~xpressed his elegiac view of the temporal world through the voice of a "distant" poetic persona, and Yellowly the sun sloped low down to westward LL SNSL L N S Barnes, too, preferred Anglo-Saxon English to the Latinised and here again Hardy has deliberately gone for Anglo-Saxon words: ‘footed’ and ‘grave-way’, for example. This method of paying tribute to Barnes could have misfired by being too clever, but the authenticity and integrity of feeling, and a poetic apprehension and poetic method which perfectly balance each other, make this one of the finest poems by one poet about another in the English language. The imagery of light flashing out of the darkness is brilliant in conveying Hardy's feelings about Barnes and what Barnes had meant to him. In all Hardy's greatest poems poetic apprehension and poetic method achieve this kind of fusion. No tes Quotations from Hardy's novels are taken from Macmillan's New Wessex Edition (London: Macmillan, 1974-6). 1. James Gribson and Trevor Johnson (eds), A Casebook: Thomas Hardy: Poems (London: Macmillan, 1979) p. 90. Hereafter cited as Casebook. Middleton Murry's essay first published as ‘The Poetry of Mr Hardy’, in The Athenaeum, November 1919. 2. Under the Greenwood Tree, Pt First, Ch. 1. 3. Gillian Beer, Can the Native Return? (The Hilda Hulme Lecture, 1988) (London: University of London, 1989) p. 18. 4. The Return of the Native, Bk First, Ch. 6. 5. The Life and Work of Thomas Hardy, by Thomas Hardy, ed. Michael Millgate (London: Macmillan, 1984) p. 408. Hereafter cited as Life. 6. Life, pp. 474/5. 7. The Complete Poems of Thomas Hardy, ed. James Gibson (London: Macmillan, 1976). Hereafter explores Hardy's notion of temporal relativity, particularly in light of scientific advances and prevailing notions of spirituality.] "‘That mirror which makes of men a transparency" "Moments of Vision" (427) Hardy was drawn to the philosophy of Herbert Spencer (EH [Evelyn Hardy, Thomas Hardy: A Critical Biography] 67) and in all likelihood would have agreed with him, in First Principles, that "the reality existing behind all appearances is, and must ever be, unknown" (57). Hardy's two-step among the antinomies of his poetry made his ideas too protean to pin down to a particular school of thought and thus made it easy for his "reality" to remain unknown. He dodged labels like enemy fire and purposely showed a public interest in conflicting ideologies in order to protect himself from the conventional opinions of those who wanted to give him a name. Hardy even makes sport of his own dualistic style in the humorous poem "Our Old Friend Dualism" (892). The entire undertaking of his poetry depends on one basic dialectic: the impulse to attend to the material world, to the thing itself, so that the signs the poem makes adhere to the linear model of time, and the drive to transcend it. In Hardy's work temporality is either a literal external condition or it is Kantian internal sense--or both--with objectivity and subjectivity intersecting in the manner of Yeatsian gyres. In general, Hardy's poetic landscape, with nature, animals, and people, alternately decaying and blooming like Spengler's civilizations, translate both in time's real and imaginative meanings, the twin halves of ironic existence. Hardy's method is to abut these contrarieties, building a bifold structure within the frame of each poem. The house of life thus completed is a puzzle of fragmentary temporal orders, of various junctures of the incongruous, of the imaginative past irradiated by the light of memory, compounded with the disillusioning present, and all moving centrifugally around the ephemeral. The sporadic antagonism and conflation of both perspectives is the source of poetic process because for Hardy a poem is a mime of life in time. In Evelyn Hardy's critical biography of Hardy, she notes that the poet from an early age did not like to be physically touched (EH 40). This trait prefigured not only his fear of exposure to public criticism, but also his need to observe "fleshed humanity" from a distance. Eventually, affinities for solitude, shelter, and long-range observation were the elements in his psyche that fused and shaped his idea of himself as a poet. He wrote many of his poems from either Olympian heights to speculate on past, present, or future, or "posthumously," as an observer from beyond the imaginary margin of his own life. In these poems the poetic self is displaced into a distant voice that speaks as an elegist of both personal and public history or a prophet of the yet-to-come. In 1885, when he moved into his newly built home, Max Gate, Hardy planted a staggering two or three thousand Austrian pines. Robert Grittings contends that it was the pines "that isolated Hardy from his fellows" (THLY [Robert Grittings, Thomas Hardy's Later Years] 43). The dark home surrounded by a forest of trees gave him the distant milieu necessary for a poet's speculations. Leonard Woolf noted that in conversing with Hardy "there came the feeling that he was also attending to some quite different, distant, unspoken, incommunicable world of consciousness . .. his time and place were suspiciously distant" (EH 224). As "a man of memories" Hardy was preoccupied with "the pensive progress" of things in "a distant place." The past to him was a poetic act that never ended. The moments of the present were far less compelling than the mystery of how scenes, people, events, and things could continue living in forms of mind. Spengler in Decline of the West, which Hardy read toward the end of his life, states: every trait of the actual working consciousness, whether it be feeling or understanding, is in the moment of our becoming aware of it, already past. (89) No greater artistic distance can be achieved than by leaving the present and its encumbrances behind and thinking of the world as past. The poems in which this distance is attained, where the self is either posterior to time or magically aloof from it, sequestered in a poetic refuge from the world, are much like elegies. In a flight away from self and its origins in "the crass clanging" welter of humanity, Hardy regards his own passing or the passing of time before him. In fact, he was fascinated by the idea of a disembodied soul, able to traverse the limits of the physical world. He speaks of wishing to leave the earth before death and witnessing life from a hidden perspective in the manner of Christ's ghost after the crucifixion: For my part, if there is a way of getting a melancholy satisfaction out of life it lies in dying, so to speak, before one is out of the flesh, by which I mean putting on the matter of ghosts, wandering in their haunts, and taking their view of surrounding things. To think of life as a passing away is a sadness: to think of it as past is at least tolerable. Hence even when I enter into a room to pay a simple morning call I have unconsciously the habit of regarding the scene as if I were a spectre not solid enough to influence my environment: only to behold and say, as another spectre said: Peace be unto you. (L [Thomas Hardy, The Life of Thomas Hard); ed. F. E. Hardy] 210) In the closing line of "The Temporary, the All," the first poem of the first volume (Wessex Poems 1898), Hardy laments the bitter anticipation of "ripe Time pending" his "onward earth-track / Never transcended!" (7). The desire to leave behind the temporary, the all, is expressed in the novels and poems where the characters long to escape from intolerable circumstances. Some assume the floating perspective of a soul loosened from earthly moorings. Tess herself becomes "ghostly" and greater than her apparent self. She is a "regnant soul" when she walks alongside Angel at Talbothay's dairy. At breakfast one morning the dairy workers listen to Tess's curious spiritualism: I do know that our souls can be made to go outside our bodies when we are alive. A very easy way to feel ‘era go is to lie on the grass at night and look straight up at some big bright star; and by fixing your mind upon it, you will soon find that you are hundreds and hundreds o’ miles away from your body, which you don't seem to want at all. (106) The literalist Dairyman Crick responds that "I never reeled my soul rise so much as an inch above my shirtcollar." It is the literalism of history that Tess wants to escape, as if she knows that she will continue to be its victim. When Angel tries to teach her a bit about the course of human events, she proves that she understands the grim implications of linearity unsweetened by psychic fictions: The best is not to remember that your nature and your past doings have been just like thousands and thousands and that your coming life and doings'll be like thousands and thousands. (lll) In the late 1880s, Hardy came under the influence of Platonic thought, and Hardy's notion of the soul's flight from nature bears similarity to Plato's ideas of it. Driven by the energy of its vision, the thought of a poet goes from its home along the "city strand" and leaps "all over the land," seeking refuge from the "travesties" of "Time’ s tongue" (865). In Plato, the ideal being, beyond time, is what the soul reaches for in its flight: And thought is best when the mind is gathered unto herself and none of these things trouble her--neither sounds nor sights nor pain nor any pleasure,--when she takes leave of the body and has as little as possible to do with it, when she has no bodily sense or desire, but is aspiring after true being. (158) By shuffling off the coil of reality and achieving distance from the workaday world, the unmoored soul can achieve the insights of poetic idealism: the very light of the mind in her own clearness searches into the very truth of each, and that to release the soul of a thing, the visioner must relinquish his perception of the simple material world. (159) In scores of poems, apparitions of the disincarnated consciousness of long-dead persons who have escaped the body of the world comment on its broken spirit. In both poetry and fiction, Hardy uses the moth to represent the tragedy of the soul escaping into exstasis and incinerated by its own passion. Hardy expands upon the myth of the white miller moth escaping from the mouth of a dying person that Dorset folk thought to be the actual soul escaping the body after death. The symbol of the moth suits his dualistic treatment of the body-soul theme, with time incarnating as flesh, and flesh as the prison-house of the spirit. Aching with the love that "lures life on," the moth courts the flame. In "The Moth-Signal," the "burnt and broken" moth is the "pale winged token" of love that cannot be. In "Something Tapped," Hardy fancies that the ghost of Emma taps at the window for him to join her in death. He finds a "pallid moth" in place of her physical form, and it vanishes into the night. Images of wandering movements in nature are often conveyances of the soul at large. Fog, vapors, and mists are images of projected vision floating beyond the gateposts of mortal life. Angel Clare and Tess are Adam and Eve when they first meet in the "spectral, halfcompounded aqueous light" at the "dim inceptive stage of the day." Instead of the dawn that creeps over Stonehenge to claim her life at the end of the novel, this halfformed atmosphere is the dawn of all things beginning to live. She appears to Angel as a "visionary essence of womaal"--a whole sex condensed into one typical form (lll. But daylight soon intrudes on Tess's reverie in the dawn fog, and Dairyman Cfick's voice reminds his hirelings of the hour and Tess returns to her place in time. The dairyman's voice and aspect, as benign as they may be, recall the deceptive actualities of the material world ushered in by the cidermaker of autumn and other foreboding characters. There follows a flurry of active verbs as another commonplace day commences. Jarring sounds of a table scraping the floor at a hurried breakfast, the "squish squash" of a revolving churn and Dairyman Crick's rough-hewn accents announce the schedule of the world and warn all stragglers to relinquish the indulgence of dreams (106). In Schopenhauer’ s terms, the coarse syllables of actual time are the demanding "pains of existence" that the artist dismisses in his passion for flexible inner realities (Campbell 356). Hardy's emblems of escape from time's imperious rule--ghosts, vapors, moths, and so on--often signal desperate detachment from a psyche shaken by anguish. When Hardy succeeds in viewing the temporal world and himself as past, or himself as distant enough from each, both world and self are loosed from conventional time. A poem is then free to become an instrument of history. Ironically, as an act of interpretation, the poem rejoins the poet and becomes inseparable from him. Objective and subjective absorb each other. When the years steal away his joy in "The Occulation," he wonders if his own romantic past still lives beyond objective time to burn in inexhaustible radiance. He asks if all three tenses could melt together in memoryinduced sensation: . .. ‘So ended that joy of mine Years back begun.‘ But day continued its lustrous roll In upper air; And did my late irradiate soul Live on somewhere? (463) The image of the liberated soul radiant with the "diffused light" of memory takes its shape and substance from a land beyond temporal reach, embodied in floating mists, the psyche-moth, and "phantoms wandering in upper air." Because Hardy, along with many Victorians, wished to be the soul who escaped "the fret of thinking / on Mortality" (753), he tried to revive memories of moments in which he did escape. But ghosts of memories, like the musical themes in "To My Father's Violin," are too often "Elusive as a jack-olantern's gleam" (451). The traveling soul was one of Hardy's favorite images of himself as a poet with a panoramic focus on human experience. The speaker in "I Travel as a Phantom Now" "visit(s) bodiless / Strange gloomy households" in conflict, and wonders "if Man's consciousness / Was a mistake of Grod's" (458). Distance expands his view, revealing deconstructively that there is no providential history. His nightmare is Blake's in "The Mental Traveller" where as the speaker "traveld thro’ a Land of Men" he "heard & saw such dreadful things / As cold Earth wanderers never knew" (475). Blake sees savage allegories of history as metamorphoses. History is a child of fallen sexuality, the offspring of male and female forces begetting ill events after sadistic coupling. As early as 1866, in "In Vision I Roamed," Hardy wishes to change places with the stars to escape history and to view it from the boundaries of the "Dome" that wraps the earth. The first two stanzas of "I Travel as a Phantom Now" recall Satan's cosmic flight in Milton's Paradise Lost or again in "The Mental Traveller": And as I thought my spirit ranged on and on In footless traverse through ghast heights of sky, To the last chambers of the monstrous Dome. (9) Hardy's perspective is that of a vaporous hierophant scaling the universe at an inconceivable distance. But instead of learning ineffable mysteries, he learns a rather humble one. In "sick grief" he longs to go home because the highest value is not to be "Where stars the brightest" are, but to be with his love where "any spot on our own Earth seemed Home!" (10). Even the stars are subject to tyrannical, pitiless atrophy. They burn out like candles. Yet perversely we imagine ourselves on one side of a duality and stars on the other as symbols of immortality and all we can never become. As Evelyn Hardy says of Hardy's interpretation of astronomy in Two on a Tower: Astronomy is a "tragic" study, the results of which are to dwarf human significance into nightmare insignificance; a study of stellar bodies and chasms brings not only unendurable loneliness but overpowering "‘pulsations of horror." (EH 190) The astronomer and his lady come to the conclusion that neither the wheel of stars above nor human love below can last forever. On the sublunary plane the moon itself is a trope for the metaphysical perspective on the worst of reality. Hardy believed that assuming the worst was "playing the safe game." He displaces himself into the wandering moon to achieve the remoteness and detachment necessary to find the worst in the broad spectrum of one life or of many. In "At Moonrise and Onwards," the moon is "nude of cloud" disclosing bare intimations of what Hardy's lifeline holds in store for him. He addresses her as "O Lady of all my time / Veering uubid into my view." Diana the Huntress lies in wait behind a hedge. Like time itself, she can never relinquish the quarry of the world. The "Wan Woman of the waste" is thus a perfect symbol of Hardy's relentless, foreboding, wry perspective on his own life and on the arbitrary and eventually fatal balance of all things. Her burning face is a signal fire of the future predicting "mischief the most dire" and then she is "yellow-green, / Like a large glow-worm in the sky," suggesting the "mood and mien" of death. Her tracking movement across the landscape spotlights time passing for the poet below. The poem starts with the moon's rise and proceeds "onwards," the way his life does from "Life's top cyme" to "Death's mew" (567). In "At a Lunar Eclipse" the trinary symmetry of sun, moon, and earth enfold ironies within ironies. Our continent of "moil and misery" is hemmed by a "sunIn vision I roamed the flashing Firmament, So fierce in blazon that the Night waxed wan, As though with awe at orbs of such ostent; cast" coastal arc of lunar serenity. Even the earth creates a trompe l'oeil of itself when the "even monochrome" and "imperturbable serenity" of its shadow hide the complex configurations of what time brings: war, death, heroes, and "women fairer than the skies." But the ultimate irony against the background of this celestial vastness is that even "immense" death throws "So small a shade" (116) in its banality. In "To the Moon" there is a clear equation between the moon's and Hardy's perspective. From far away, each witness all that is: "Self-wrapt, beyond Earth's bounds" hearing the sounds of "the human tune." In its antiquity and persistence, the moon is the Ancient of Days tabulating the "Sweet, sublime / Sore things, shudderful, night and noon," beholding "growth, decay / Nations alive, dead, mad, aswoon," predicting an end to the "show" of riven reality (437). The distanced moon-poet futurizes the individual lives within his view. In "The Moon Looks In" (390), its "chilly ray" shines on the hopeful "upturned face" of the lover and gazes at him, knowing that the one he dreams of in the moonlight has already rejected him. The moon is the future itself in "On the Esplanade," where the lyric speaker is spellbound by the languid blend of light and water orchestrated by a "mild, mellow-faced" moon. The horizon is lost in mists, as all definitions of endings and beginnings blur in the haze of visionary love. But behind the scene at all times is the moon, "Fate's masked face," creeping nearer and nearer (715). In some poems, such as "Surview," subtitled "Cogitavi vias meas," Hardy splits in two to listen to a distanced self make observations about his life. The ventriloquist voice that murmurs its pronouncements is "a cry from the green-grained sticks of the fire," but, as Hardy admits, "‘Twas my own voice talking therefrom to me / On how I had walked when the sun was higher--My heart in its arrogancy" (698). Perhaps by "arrogancy" Hardy meant his youthful belief that he could actually live outside the present and regard life as an epitaph of itself, or as a funeral inscription in the making, recorded in the middle distance by the poet as aloof historian. This desire to see the past and present as part of an aborted future is reflected in his memory of a few incidents from boyhood days. He loved seeing the day come to an end. When the evening sun shone brilliantly on the red walls of the Bockhampton home: "Tommy used to wait for this chromatic effect, and sitting alone there, would recite to himself ‘And Now Another Day is Grone’ from Dr. Watt's Hymns, with great fervency" (EL [Florence Emily Hardy, The Early Life of Thomas Hardy[ 19). Another event from The Early Life illustrates Hardy's relief in feeling momentarily safe from the future, or in feeling that if a future had to occur it would only be a form of the past, as in the strange temporal alchemy of the love lyrics. He pretended to be safe from the transitory in order to explore its field: He was lying on his back in the sun, thinking how useless he was and covered his face with his straw hat. The sun's rays streamed through the interstices of the straw, the lining having disappeared. Reflecting on his experiences of the world so far as he had got, he came to the conclusion that he did not wish to grow up. Other boys were always talking of when they would be men. He did not want at all to be a man or to possess things, but to remain as he was, in the same spot and to know no more people than he already knew (about half a dozen). Yet this early evidence of that lack of social ambition which followed him through life was shown when he was in perfect health and happy circumstances. (EL 19) Childhood hid him from the despair he encountered as an adult, intoned in such a poem as the demystifying "Christmastide," Written about an experience of Christmas Day, it was published in his last volume, Winter Words, and begins: The rain-shafts splintered on me As despondently I strode; As twilight gloomed upon me And bleared the blank high-road. (846) Hardy's alliteration intones Tennyson's despair, laying bare the road of a desolate future in "In Memoriam": "On the bald street breaks the blank day" (VII. 12). The poem "Childhood Among the Ferns" declares a mode of mind whose sequestered vision is camouflaged by nature. Young Hardy's hat with its "interstices of straw" corresponds to the ferns of the scene, protecting him from the rain, once again an image of the helterskelter "afar-noised world" threatening even the "connings of a dreamer." But the child among the ferns maintains his proud protected place despite the downpour: I sat one sprinkling day upon the lea, Where tall-stemmed ferns spread out luxuriantly, And nothing but those tall ferns sheltered me. The rain gained strength, and damped each lopping frond, Ran down their stalks beside me and beyond, And shaped slow-creeping rivulets and as I conned, With pride, my spray-roofed house. And though anon Some drops pierced its green rafters, I sat on, Making pretence I was not rained upon. (864) In the fourth stanza, Hardy simply declares: "I could live on here thus until death." Eventually harsh words spoken by critics deeply injured the sensitive Hardy. Jude the Obscure, for example, was regarded as ‘pornographic’ in certain quarters, or at least filled with ‘gratuitously impossible’ excesses in others (Seymour-Smith, 517-518). Even Hardy's friend Edmund Grosse called Jude "the most indecent novel ever written," a casual remark that deeply wounded its mark, but for which Hardy eventually forgave him (Seymour-Smith, 516). In "A Poet's Thought," an idea that had sprung "up out of him in the dark" is "mangled and maimed" by the travesties "Time's tongue had tossed to him." In a similar mood he writes "A Wish for Unconsciousness." Yet Hardy survived by secluding himself in his fortress-like home, mentally estranged from the welter outside Dorsetshire. He states in "A Private Man on Public Men" that when his "contemporaries were driving / Their coach through Life with strain and striving," he remained "quiet, screened, unknown" (927). His confined vantage point was another way of achieving an expanded view of the time and place beyond his door. From such a nook he achieves an encyclopedic wholeness of vision such as in The Dynasts, where history is a dimensionless web unbroken by floods of experience. As in Whitman's vision, poetry spins from the innards of the poet. Hardy's weaver-poet choosing patterns in the carpet with his tireless vision is the antithesis of the god-automaton in "Nature's Questioning" who "framed us" by rote and in impotence. The image of the poet in "The House of Silence" consubstantiates all the different elements of Hardy's poiesis that make him a poet of intuitive vision in a trancelike removal from the actual body of time: Of joys and sorrows, of earth and heaven That meet mankind in its ages seven, An aion in an hour.‘ (474) Behind a stand of heavy trees, Hardy memorializes his own nocturnal mind dreaming a world into being. He passively absorbs the world in the temporal referent of a poem. The occluded thinker is the young Hardy hidden either in the ferns or behind his lowered hat, making for himself "a poet's bower," much like the secret place in the forest where Keats discovers Psyche and Eros, "In deepest grass, beneath the whisp'ring roof/ Of leaves and trembled blossoms" (1190). To Keats, this is "some untrodden region of my mind / Where branched thoughts . .. Instead of pines shall murmur in the wind" (1191). Keats's branched temple and Hardy's fern house and spinning brain are the same reclusive shelter designed for the experience Wordsworth describes in "Tintern Abbey" when material sight is "made quiet" so that "We see into the life of things" (259). Here Hardy furnishes his recurrent dream to escape beyond the time-bound world. He reduces an aion to an hour and draws "fleet arrays" of all mankind through the material screen of vision. Tom Paulin notes that "The House of Silence" makes a separation between "visioning powers" and the "material screen" (182). I suggest that Hardy's fringed cave is his achieved ideal of privacy that does not divide mind from nature but, on the contrary, joins the physical scope to the spiritual clarity of what he "sees," making thinking and seeing identical. Even though in some poems Hardy has expressed the desire to have his life "unbe," still others like "The House of Silence" do not end with death, but with the migration of spirit into the gleaming precincts of a larger soul made of vision and "endless time." The spinner in the first stanza is Hardy's runic identity that escapes "the obliterate tomb," for that is how Hardy wanted to be remembered--as "one of the last of [his] race" who, like Shakespeare, held the power to "cow Oblivion" (439). To Hardy, cultural oblivion is the by-product of a race suppressed by its bondage to the Will, a Urizenic form enslaved by metrical time, the medium it uses to fulfill itself. Hardy felt that we were "coming to the end of visioning" (929)--the type of visioning that transcends the "due rote" of the "passing bell." Poets totalize "long teams of all the years and days" simultaneously, like Keats's historical muse, Moneta, with her "planetary eyes" (1206). For Hardy, as well as Schopenhauer, the whole world is Will "and consequently can be satisfied with nothing less than possession of the entire world as object . . ." (Campbell 357). Nonetheless, the poet in "The House of Silence" ‘That is a quiet place-- That house in the trees with the shady lawn.‘ ‘--If, child, you knew what there goes on You would not call it a quiet place. Why, a phantom abides there, the last of its race, And a brain spins there till dawn.‘ ‘But I see nobody there-- Nobody moves about the green, Or wanders the heavy trees between.‘ ‘-Ah, that's because you do not bear The visioning powers of souls who dare To pierce the material screen. ‘Morning, noon, and night, Mid those funereal shades that seem The uncanny scenery of a dream, Figures dance to a mind with sight, And music and laughter like floods of light Make all the precincts gleam. ‘It is a poet's bower, Through which there pass, in fleet arrays, Long teams of all the years and days, retreat is a different order of being, superior to the Will, because he is at once free of the world, yet possessed entirely of it. Mind and time exist in a conceptual symbiosis. The poet sees mind-sights in the darkness, or, as Wordsworth says, "when the light of sense / Goes out, but with a flash that has revealed the Invisible World" (283). In obvious response to Platonic thought, Hardy felt that the world in abstract is the ulterior reality. In his notebook Hardy describes the spirits of The Dynasts as abstract realisms and in defining their role in the play, he says that they are the true realities of life, and the "old material realities [are] to be placed behind the former as shadowy accessories" (EL 232). In "The House of Silence" shadows are obverse signs of the material world. They warn of the poet hiding within them. The "funereal shades" are the moving reflections of a mind adrift in the necromantic arts of raising the refractory past to life. All dissolves in the delirium of deathful Time--"all the years and days / Of joys and sorrows"--but live again in a phantasmal eternity of mind. In Winter Words, published in 1928, the year of Hardy’ s death, he wrote the mystical "I Am the One." In such a poem, among other examples in his work, Hardy shows his Browningesque wish to be part of all the different ways people and things of the earth live and die. Paul Zietlow notes: "Sometimes it seems as if Hardy's ‘death’ were occasioned by a clearing of vision, as if becoming aware of the realities of life through growth and maturation, were, ironically, a process of dying" (171). Writing poetry demanded "dying" for Hardy. It was not just the need for privacy that made him wish for an unseen perspective. Nor did he wish for a poetic invisibility so he could exist in a separate universe. But the ultimate goal was this very "clearing of vision." In unmaking himself, he flowed into the life and death scenes around him. Neither the grass-munching rabbits nor the mourners at a funeral regard him with surprise or curiosity because he is no longer the "Other," but part of them as the "One." The "Up-eared hares" gaze at him as "one for whom Nobody cares," and "the weteyed mourners" think: "No matter; he quizzes not / Our misery." Coleridge's description of imaginary time is the state of mind resulting from projecting one's whole being into daydreams (422). Here Hardy's imaginary time assimilates poet and world together. This idea of the poet is like God's idea of Himself in saying to Moses, "I am who am," "I am the substance of all that is," or Wordsworth's idea of the self in "The Tables Turned," as the heart that "watches and receives" (259). As elegist of the world when it passes before him, he must leave his own place in time to enter the world synchronously, receiving the narratives of "Beginning and End." The poem becomes the syncopation of all temporal modes. No pain or joy or irony from past, present, or future is beyond his representation. The observations in "I Am the One," are made by the poet from behind "chinks in boughs" through which ringdoves gaze at him. The chink is Hardy's chink of possibility, giving him the shelter of a tiny hidden space to store his thought "like pent-up water" (L 147). Released, it seeks all levels freely. Regarding and becoming that which he observes, Hardy encloses all within the integument of memory: I hear above: "We stars must lend No fierce regard To his gaze, so hard Bent on us thus,- Must scathe him not, He is one with us Beginning and end." (837) Hardy writes his epitaph in "Afterwards," where the poet "remembers" himself as the hidden observer of all nature in benign transition. Here Hardy finally makes peace with time. The "things" in the poet's romantic gaze betray the chronometric observations of the SignSeeker. Written in humility and awe, this poem honors the fragile mystery of changes that take place in nature and in the heart. "Afterwards" is Hardy's plea that his work be remembered as a compassionate observation of the temporal: When the Present has latched its postern behind my tremulous stay, And the May month flaps its glad green leaves like wings, Delicate-filmed as new-spun silk, will the neighbours say, ‘He was a man who used to notice such things’? If it be in the dusk when, like an eyelid's soundless blink, The dewfall-hawk comes crossing the shades to alight Upon the wind-warped upland thorn, a gazer may think, ‘To him this must have been a familiar sight.‘ If I pass during some nocturnal blackness, mothy and warlT, When the hedgehog travels furtively over the lawn, One may say,‘He strove that such innocent creatures should come to no harm But he could do little for them; and now he is gone.‘ If, when hearing that I have been stilled at last, they stand at the door, Watching the full-starred heavens that winter sees, Will this thought rise on those who will meet my face no more, ‘He was one who had an eye for such mysteries’? And will any say when my bill of quittance is heard in the gloom, And a crossing breeze cuts a pause in its outrollings, Till they rise again, as they were a new bell's boom, ‘He hears it not now, but used to notice such things’? (553) Beside the Mead of Memories, Where Church-way mounts to Moaning Hill, The sad man sighed his phantasies: He seems to sigh them still. "The Dead Quire" (255) When Leslie Stephen, philosopher, man of letters, and father of Virginia Woolf, called Hardy to his home, he asked him to witness his signature on a document renouncing his holy orders. They held a conversation on "theologies decayed and defunct" and the "unreality of time" (LW [Thomas Hardy, The Life and Work of Thomas Hardy, ed. Millgate] 108-109). For Hardy, the unreality of time supplanted defunct theologies as the raw material for a new mythopoesis. Time imaged in Swinburne's "The Triumph of Time" as "the coil of things" impressed him (EH 71). He developed the circuitous image alongside the familiar temporal line, making the threads of memory spiral back, around, and through the "now" at the core of the poem. Meditated on from the perspective of the present, history subsumes all moments at once, because each event contains within it the fruit of the past and the seed of the future. With this ambiguity Hardy conceives of his characters in the broadest structure of experience as individuals caught by the rush of events in the evolution of society. Much has been made of his "morbid fascination" with stories of brutal executions in Dorset. In one particular story told by his grandmother, a woman who may or may not have poisoned her husband was strangled first, then as she regained consciousness, was burned at the stake. Since she had just given birth, her milk spurted out upon the onlookers as she burned (N [Thomas Hardy, Thomas Hardy's Notebooks’, ed. Evelyn Hardy[ 82). In carefully recording the astounding horror of this event that occurred long before, in the early 1700s, Hardy traces the movement of truth as both linear and circular. Its descent is linear in the transmission of oral and written histories and, in a circular fashion it lives again in the retelling with the impact of when it first occurred. Truth cannot live apart from examples of it, even if that example occurred a century or more ago. Nor can it ever leave public narrative. The revulsion of that event had an immediacy for him that had less to do with morbidity than with the aliveness of the past within the now, his grief over the suffering and atrocities that continue in the present and his speculations about the recurrence of such events in the yet-to-come. The lines and the circles representing the factual and the imaginal concept of time form at the root of two sides of the dilemma that frame the central crisis of Hardy's age: how to reconcile the findings of the new science with the discoveries of the spiritual life. In reading the life of Goethe, Hardy notes: "Schlegel says that ‘the deepest want and deficiency of all modemn art lies in the fact that the artists have no mythology.‘" As Evelyn Hardy says, "Hardy's mind was mythopoeic as well as analytic, and although he continually strove to impose the dictates of reason, his interest in the occult, in the unconscious, and in myth and legend, continued to obtrude, almost to his astonishment" (N 51). The temporal is an enigma out of which he wove the elements of duration and phenomenal change to make a prophecy. The thread that makes the running line is the duration of Dorset. Charles Kegan Paul praised Hardy's faithful representation of Dorset life: Time in Dorset has stood still; advancing civilization has given the labourer only lucifer-matches and the penny post, and the clowns in Hamlet are no anachronism if placed in a west country village of our own day. (Millgate 181) But as Michael Millgate also notes: "his devotion to the past by no means excluded a belief in the virtues of scientific and technological progress" (261). The thread that made a circle in Hardy's pattern is the winding movement of orbital time with his linear objectification of the historical. His synthesis of past and present dallied with the unknown of the future, following what "all men are pursuing--a Shadow, the Unattainable" (The Well-Beloved, xi). Although Hardy's moments of vision were only passing rays shining and fading on the geometric fields of the Sign-Seeker's perceptions, at these moments history ceases to be a fatality and becomes a vision of itself. Absolute time is relative, that is, the eternal is relative to its contents, or more specifically, to the individuals, events, climates--the all-encompassing-All--that occurred in the past and is occurring now in the soonto-be past or present. Hardy can half-create possibilities in his vision of history because it is not based on objective measurements of experience corresponding mutually or coordinating with each other according to definite rules. Nor is there ever just a formulaic here and now or yesterday because time develops in the timepiece of a poem calibrated variably by a poetic compound eye. Hardy's perspective is relative only to his understanding of the possibilities inherent in the tale it tells. In "The Clasped Skeletons" Hardy looks out from his window at Max Grate at ancient British barrows dating from 1880 B.c. He catalogues generations of lovers who followed each other: Paris and Helen, David and Bathsheba, Aspasia and Pericles, and so on. The lovers narrate a tale "beyond chronology." He concludes: "Yet what is length of time? But dream!" In this poem, love, rather than time, eventuates the now: Those fossils near you, met the gleam Of day as you did here; But so far earlier theirs beside Your life-span and career That they might style of yestertide Your coming here! (874) The fossils are not signs of those who have died, but signs of The Dead, members of a community passing through instances of loving forms and relations, each coupling itself a dialectic. The temporal here is an episodic tale of random affinities or Darwinian coalescences making the transitory benign and productive despite its ironic context of barrows and skeletons. What "The Absolute Explains" in another poem written six years before Hardy's death, is that there is a figurative or metaphoric order in which change is confined to the phantom reality of the present, and "Future and Past stand sheer, / Cognate and clear." "The Present, that men but see, / Is phasmal / Your Now is just a gleam, a glide / Across your gazing sense" (754). The present is like mercury. As Schopenhauer said, "the present is always slipping through the fingers of men to the deadness of the past" (Brennecke 129). "Time is a mock" because one long length of Being embraces the antilogies of past, present, and future. What appears to be Time's dominion in death is actually the continuous reproductive system of life in which endings take place that beginnings may recommence. The Absolute contains the "The vista called the Past," "fadeless, fixed" (755), the fugitive prophecies of the present, and the germinating future as well. In league with the quantum science of the new order, the poetic Absolute denies the inflexible necessitarianism of Victorian chronology. In a late fable written on New Year's Eve in 1922: ‘In fine, Time is a mock,--yea, such!-- As he might well confess: Yet hath he been believed in much, Though lately, under stress Of science, less. XV To see all lengths begin and end ‘The Fourth Dimension’ fame Bruits as its name.‘ (757) The next poem in the volume Human Shows affirms that time and its losses are merely the ephemera of knowledge. In fact, in "So, Time," the speaker declares that Time is "nought / But a thought without reality": Young, old, Passioned, cold, All the loved-lost thus Are beings continuous, In dateless dure abiding, Over the present striding With placid permanence That knows not transcience: Firm in the Vast, First, last; Afar, yet close to us. (758) Robert Grittings makes the point that Hardy's intellectual life waxed more and more vibrantly with advancing age and was "keenly alive to all forms of twentieth-century thought." Florence Dugdale, his second wife, wrote: he "ponders over Einstein's Theory of Relativity in the night" (THLY 193). As Ernst Cassirer noted, in speaking of relativity, Einstein said it "takes from time and space the last remainder of physical objectivity" (412). Past, present, and future, in Hardy's "van" of relative time, are indistinguishable parts of a poetic eternity. He re-visions the relative in this way: "Relativity: That things and events always were, are, and will be [e.g., Emma, Mother, and Father are living still in the past]" (L 419). He sees his own face as an image of relative time in "I Look Into My Glass," wherein the past, present, and even the future abide grotesquely in one reflection, Hardy becoming the wholeness of time's representations: I look into my glass And view my wasting skin, And say, ‘Would God it came to pass My heart had shrunk as thin!‘ For then, I, undistrest By hearts grown cold to me, Could lonely wait my endless rest With equanimity. But Time, to make me grieve, Part steals, lets part abide; And shakes this fragile frame at eve With throbbings of noontide. (81) Even his meeting of Florence Dugdale was a "throbbing at noontide," occurring when he felt closer to death than at any time in his life. In 1907, the year of their ‘And hence, of her You asked about At your first speaking: she Hath, I assure you, not passed out Of Continuity But is in me. XVI ‘So thus doth Being's length transcend Time's ancient regal claim meeting, Hardy was forty years older than she. But in "After the Visit," Florence makes him susceptible to continuities. Her eyes seem to ponder Scarce consciously, The eternal question of what Life was, And why we were there. (310) And in a tender poem about his grandmother, Mary Head, Hardy abandons objectivity altogether. In his new perception, time is an autumnal detachment from the rigid line it inhabited before: With cap-framed face and long gaze into the embers-- We seated around her knees-- She would dwell on such dead themes, not as one who remembers But rather as one who sees. She seemed one left behind of a band gone distant So far that no tongue could hail: Past things retold were to her as things existent, Things present but as a tale. (275) Poetry to Hardy discloses the very heart of a thing, its indeterminate essence that partakes of man's idea of infinity. Although he almost always maintains his familiar foothold in the world of actual time as an instrument of measurement, he intuits an ideal space where factuality fails and experience shakes free of "the wailful world." The focus of the poem "Proud Songsters" concerns the great irony of temporal relativity. Thrushes and finches sing in tune with--rather than in spite of--the rhythms of each day, night, and season, "As if all Time were Theirs." "The sun is going" but as it gets dark, the "loud nightingales / Pipe as each they can when April wears" (835). The birds contradict historical linearity. As spirits of nature they were close to Hardy because their energy and joy and music, despite their utterly unaided existence in winter, symbolize the choice to live. These "brand new birds," only "twelve-months’ growing," are curiously Platonic in origin, romantic offspring of other essences suggesting "all-including" attachments of living and non-living things (836). Having the same "soul-sphere" of the journeying boy in "Midnight on the Great Western" (514), the birds cycle in and out of life despite the obscurity of the past and the limitations of the future. The birds originate in atoms of earth and we originate in atoms of stars. Their transience seems incidental: These are brand-new birds of twelve-months’ growing, Which a year ago, or less than twain, No finches were, nor nightingales, Nor thrushes, But only particles of grain, And earth, and air, and rain. (836) Comte's looped orbit appears again as Hardy's key image of historical relativity because the backward and forward movement of its lines is a precise correlate of the wholeness of time in its cyclic progress. As Hardy notes in his personal writings, "Things move in cycles; dormant principles renew themselves, and exhausted principles are thrust by." Hardy characterizes Comte's loop, his symbol of general progress, as "not a movement of revolution but--to use the current word-- evolution." He states that if the "periodicity" of progress includes a renewal of high tragedy, for example, a modern artist's original treatment will enrich what the ancient form of drama has to offer (PW [Thomas Hardy, Thomas Hardy's Personal Writings, ed. Orel] 126). In his famous theory first published in 1830, Comte argued that the study of the past would help us realize the goal of "the social regeneration of Western Europe" by generalizing "our scientific conceptions and systematizing the art of social life" (2). In order to effect the basis of a new polity, "our intellectual faculties and our social sympathies are brought into close connection with each other" (1). At the time Comte wrote his book he saw that "the poetical power of Positivism could not be manifested: We must wait until moral and mental regeneration has advanced far enough to awaken the sympathies which naturally belong to it, and on which Art in its renewed state must depend for the future." Then "Poetry will at last take her proper rank. She will lead Humanity onward towards a future which is now no longer vague and visionary, while at the same time she will enable us to pay due honour to all phases of the past." In order to accomplish this goal all "the primary functions of humanity"--science, art, philosophy, political science-- must be coordinated. "Positivism places the Idealities of the poet midway between the Ideas of the philosopher and the Realities of the statesman" (6). By the word "positive" Comte meant "relative" (63). Condemning the past in absolute terms will not give us the critical position necessary to understand and honor history, and hence, to supersede it: "the best evidence of having attained complete emancipation will be rendering full justice to the past and all its phases" (95). This is the relativist spirit of Comte's--and Hardy's-- positivism, which advocated a looking backward via the looped orbit to enrich the social progress of the future. As Comte eloquently stated, "To live with the dead is the peculiar privilege of Humanity" (278). Reverence for our ancestors--as well as compassionate analyses of past societies--binds us to history and implants the instinct of social love and justice (105). The looped orbit of history is a hopeful symbol of a believing mind trusting in the possibility of an improved human race. Hardy made a lifelong effort to hear the echoes of history in "The voice of a Spirit's Compassionings" reporting the harmonies of nature in "the kindling vision it brings" (522). In this way he fulfilled what to Comte was the poet's permanent office: to restore the past to life, doing all honor to the past "that is consistent with philosophical truth": "For it is equally in the interest of systematic thought and of social sympathy that the relation of the Past to the Future should be deeply impressed upon all" (352). Hardy's idea of relative time that transcends the sheer natural time of the senses has its roots in Dorset where ancient and modern conjoin. Simon Gratrell says in his introduction to Return of the Native that the country of Egdon Heath is the place to which Clym Yeobright returns from Paris "burdened with Comtean ideals" (xix). In this novel in particular, Hardy provides a perfect setting for such ideals. He describes Egdon in his title for the first chapter: "A Face on which Time makes but Little Impression." In fact, time is sometimes hallucinatory in Return of the Native. At the very least, it is a conflicting mode of perception. Looking up to the day-time sky the furze-cutter may decide to remain at work, but looking down to the darkened heath and judging the time by its black face alone, "he would have decided to finish his faggot and go home": The distant rims of the world and of the firmament seemed to be a division in time no less than a division in matter. The face of the heath by its mere complexion added half-an-hour to eve: it could in like manner retard the dawn, sadden noon, anticipate the frowning of storms scarcely generated, and intensify the opacity of a moonless midnight to a cause of shaking and dread. (3) In a similar way the earth and sky of Lyonnesse intensify the mystification of time. Centrifugal poems draw in the hues and rolling movements of a distant past. In their tenuous metaphors anti-linear poems nebulize past and present. In "Great Things," a poem that casts William Barnes's pastoral Dorset together with romantic Cornwall, the poet strangely fuses tenses to convey the "absolute relativity" of the experience: Joy-jaunts, impassioned flings, Love, and its ecstasy, Will always have been great things, Great things to me! (475) A bird is again a symbol of temporal wholeness in ‘"In a Museum." The poet stands meditating on "the mould of a musical bird long passed from light," which flew over the earth "before man came." The poem anticipates an elegy but ends with only a fond memory of birdsong the night before. In words recalling Keats's nightingale ode, Hardy celebrates the "contralto voice I heard last night / That lodges in me still with its sweet singing." The next and final stanza connects time, life, and space as mutually dependent and indistinguishable: Such a dream is Time that the coo of this ancient bird Has perished not, but is blent, or will be blending Mid visionless wilds of space with the voice that I heard, In the fnll-fngued song of the universe unending. (430) Space and time merge in music that has finally escaped its earthly measures meting out "Time, with its restless scene on scene" (723). The song of the bird rises in suspension above the lords of trick and chance storing century within century like the folding fans of wings. The rhythm in "In a Whispering Gallery" achieves perfect resonance with Hardy's transcendent "time whereto no night arrives." The rapid pace of the lines accelerates the rush of thoughts surrounding a whirl of emotion. A "whisper" breathes the message that life lives on, and the fugitive sense of this possibility transforms his surroundings. By the end of the poem "the gaunt grey gallery" of the museum is a "tabernacle of worth": That whisper takes the voice Of a Spirit's compassionings, Close, but invisible, And throws me under a spell At the kindling vision it brings; And for a moment I rejoice, And believe in transcendent things That would mould from this muddy earth A spot for the splendid birth Of everlasting lives, Whereto no night arrives (522) What is sweet submission to the unknown in this poem becomes a horrifying passivity in "The Masked Face." Here Hardy sickens in terror at temporal and spatial indistinction. Einstein himself objected to the element of unpredictability in science that quantum mechanics introduced, despite his role in the development of these ideas. As soon as Hardy tried to ground his vision in the temporal, he had to acknowledge that life is built on water. In "The Masked Face," it is a great surging space with "no fixed floor." He is stunned by the mystery of our past and future. He asks Life why the air and light cannot be made clearer. Life in turn points out the absurdity of his question, characterizing him as "a goosequill pen" complaining "To the scribe of the Infinite / Of the words it had to write / Because they were past its ken" (522). What the womb of time delivers can be more unpredictable still: the abyss of war has no sides, no top, no bottom. It is a crack in the world that releases the fallen to a sea of space. During World War I Hardy wrote "A New Year's Eve in War Time." Here the movement of the clock paces the acceleration of death in the cantering gait of the poem: Phantasmal fears, And the flap of the flame, And the throb of the clock, And a loosened slate, And the blind night's drone, Which tiredly the spectral pines intone! And the blood in my ears Strumming always the same, And the gable-cock With its fitful grate, And myself, alone. III The twelfth hour nears Hand-hid, as in shame; I undo the lock, And listen, and wait For the Young Unknown. IV In the dark there careers-- As if Death astride came To numb all with his knock-- A horse at mad rate Over nt and stone. No figure appears, No call of my name, No sound but ‘Tic-Toc’ Without check. Past the gate It clatters--is gone. VI What rider it bears There is none to proclaim; And the Old Year has stnmck, And, scarce animate, The New makes moan. VII Maybe that ‘More Tears!-- More Famine and Flame-- More Severance and Shock!‘ Is the order from Fate That the Rider speeds on To pale Europe; and tiredly the pines intone. (549) (1915-1916) Visions of apocalypse were common among Victorian writers, but the similarities between the ways Carlyle and Hardy responded to the vision were striking. Carlyle's spiritual winter was the deadness of the past and the absence of meaning in a mechanical age, while Hardy's was the nightmare of war. Both acknowledged the need for a new manifesto of human possibilities before the world perished by its own hand. Both used an omniscient author-narrator to blend a mythical and historical perspective on actual events that dramatized two civilizations in the agony of fratricidal chaos. For both Carlyle's The French Revolution and Hardy's The Dynasts, history itself is the main character fascinating the narrator with its fury, passion, and horror. John Rosenberg in Carlyle and the Burden of History explains Carlyle's mergence of past, present, and future tenses in his portrayal of history as a rejection of the mechanical model of the historical perspective in favor of an organic model, the view of "society as a living tissue held together by the ‘Organic Filaments’ of language and custom, of common landscape, dress, climate, past." Hardy's stage directions for The Dynasts also describe history as one living organism evolving in time. Moving forward by the "Will / And Life's impulsion," "this all-inhering Power" should resemble "the interior of a brain which seems to manifest the volitions of a Universal Will, of whose tissues the personages of the action form portion" (36). After at least thirty years of contemplation on the Napoleonic Wars, Hardy wrote The Dynasts, a verse drama on the subject, finally published in 1903. During these wars, some of the bloodiest in history, Schopenhauer wrote in a letter that "Man should elevate himself above life, he should realize that none of the events and incidents, the joys and sorrows, touch upon his better and eternal self, i.e., that the whole is a game" (143). However, Fichte's ethical idealism, which Hardy also acknowledged as an influence in his work, emerged out of the era of the Napoleonic Wars as well. Fichte abandoned his aloof determinism, and, in writing of moral freedom, envisioned the ego observing itself producing all space-time relations by projecting a community of selves in the world (59). Fichte's compassionate idea, in contrast to Schopenhauer's philosophy of disengagement, bears much similarity to the vision of Hardy expressed by the Spirits of The Dynasts. Hardy's community of selves gather in a chorus of voices speculating on the form and content of history. The genius of this device was that it gave Hardy the power to make mathematical time relative to the voices of pity, hope, despair, and irony. Linked together, the Spirits’ responses to the catastrophe echo Hardy's multiple perspectives on time that are heard exhaustively in his work as a whole. From an overworld they narrate events with their colloquy and guide us through the fields of blood on Napoleon's stage. The panoptic sight even supersedes Grod's to whom the historical process of Will and world and time is "a purposeless propension" and "Beyond my recognition" (896). With the exception of the simultaneity of past and present within the mythical time of the love lyrics, Hardy's voices in The Dynasts represent all of time's other metamorphoses, such as sequence, duration, memory, or as an index of progress, recidivism, and tragedy. To the Spirit of the Years, each instant is one more moment unfolding a modality of time encoded by chance: Life's doom emerges "with blind gropes from impercipience / By listless sequence--luckless, tragic Chance" (D [Thomas Hardy, The Dynasts] 100). In Hardy's autobiography he states: "[Time] flows on like a thunderstorm rill by a road side; now a straw turns it this way, now a tiny barrier of sand that" (Millgate 179). Scientific accounts of the role of random events in the world's development had thrown all previous certainty concerning time and space in doubt. As Hardy describes relativity theory, "God's clockwork jolts" (905). Even the turbulent pluralism in his philosophy was forced upon him by chance and change, as his 1901 preface to Poems of the Past and Present indicates: "Unadjusted impressions have their value, and the road to a true philosophy of life seems to lie in humbly recording diverse readings of its phenomena as they are forced upon us by chance and change" (84). Situated by chance like some creature of prey in a Darwinian sea, Dorset was most vulnerable geographically to the threat of attack by Napoleon who had 100,000 men and 1,500 landing craft ready at Boulogne. Oral histories were probably available to Hardy, since The Trumpet Major, published in 1880, evokes the atmosphere of dread in Wessex at that time, a short while before Hardy was born. The Spirit of the Years is the correlative of this atmosphere, announcing the events of each hour in their relentless advance. When the Spirit of the Pities holds out the hope that some shock may yet wake the estranged consciousness of the world, The Spirit of the Years responds: Nay. In the Foretime, even to the germ of Being, Nothing appears of shape to indicate That cognizance has marshalled things terrene, Or will (such is my thinking) in my span. Rather they show that, like a knitter drowsed, Whose fingers play in skilled unmindfulness, The will has woven with an absent heed Since life first was; and even will so weave. (D 2) The Spirit Ironic and the Spirit Sinister express the foreboding of the brooding Dorset poetry where the heath is a gigantic timepiece twisted askew by the Will. The ironic spirit deems the war "a comedy," and the sinister one sees enough "to fear all men henceforward" (D 4). But it remains for The Spirit of the Years--"the Eldest-born of the Unconscious Cause" (D 42) to strip away the layers of philosophy from the "Young Spirits" (D 99) of the chorus and render scientific objectivity, precision, and identity to a world teeming with life forms lying in wait for one another. The ancient spirit watches Napoleon as if he were under a microscope, his "twitchings" and "flings" making the "frail ones" "gyrate like animalcula / In tepid pools" (D 6). The Years observe nature with a careful particularity and comment on a catastrophic scene where the smallest creatures on the floor of the earth become detritus on a biological stage with man looming above them, sweeping all into extinction: "Chorus of the Years" Yea, the coneys are scared by the thud of hoofs, And their white scuts flash at their vanishing heels, And swallows abandon the hamlet-roofs. The mole's tunnelled chambers are crnshed by wheels, The lark's eggs scattered, their owners fled; And the hedgehog's household the sapper unseals. The snail draws in at the terrible tread, But in vain; he is cnlshed by the felloe-rim; The worm asks what can be overhead, And wriggles deep from a scene so grim, And guesses him safe; for he does not know What a foul red flood will be soaking him! Beaten about by the heel and toe Are butterflies, sick of the day's long rheum, To die of a worse than the weather-foe. Trodden and braised to a miry tomb Are ears that have greened but will never be gold, And flowers in the bud that will never bloom. (D 483) The most powerful poetry in The Dynasts synthesizes the language of determinism with the pain of the speaker suffering as a fellow creature as the catastrophe comes to pass. Because we move with the poet into the trauma suffered by the lowest orders of life, there is no separation between humanity and the earth in the holocaust of moles, butterflies, corn, lark's eggs, and flowers dying in the blood-soaked mud. Yet, as bleak and frightening as Hardy's poetry of war and the inevitable often is, the crushing determinism that so influenced him allowed for alternate, more hopeful interpretations. According to Bergson, who was admired by Hardy, Darwin's evolution depends on the idea that biological form adapts to circumstances, but does not consider the preexisting condition of the circumstances. Bergson's evolution grants that the adaptation of form first replies to the past in trying to adapt to what already exists, but that in adaptation, life is creating a new form for itself in its affinity to the past (58). The past of any organism in its entirety is prolonged into the present and abides there, actual and acting (15). So in its dalliance with the past, the present coincides with an invention of itself as a new creative force in a continual morphogenesis. In Being and Nothingness, Sartre states that the individual will "must presuppose the foundation of an original freedom in order to be able to constitute itself as will" (443). Hardy's own phenomenology is a consistent reminder that the past posits the organic potential of all nature and thus provides the hope of the Immanent Will's growing consciousness. In "V. R. 1819-1901," subtitled "A Reverie" Hardy states: The mightiest moments pass uncalendared, And when the Absolute In backward Time pronounced the deedful word Whereby all life is stirred: ‘Let one be born and throned whose mould shall constitute The norm of every royal-reckoned attribute,‘ No mortal knew or heard• But in due days the purposed Life outshone-- Serene, sagacious, free; Her waxing seasons bloomed with deeds well done, And the world's heart was won .. . Yet may the deed of hers most bright in eyes to be Lie hid from ours--as in the All-One's thought lay she-- Till ripening years have run. (85) Everywhere in Hardy's poetry these two principles function as both the opposition and the syncresis of his determinist and creative interpretation of time: one, of the atrophic movement of time into nullity, and the other, of plant, animal, and human generations as a sequence of inheritance in which the past lives on in the transmuted now. I do not argue, as many critics have, that the one cancels the other. In fact, this dualistic mode is itself Hardy's own fourth dimension. Because his antithetical postures stir ambivalent waters, they allow the possibility that once the mystery has been solved, time might take a new course. Hardy makes Grod say in "The Dream Question": ‘Why things are thus, whoso derides, May well remain my secret still ... A fourth dimension, say the guides, To matter is conceivable. Think some such mystery resides Within the ethic of my will.‘ (262) By Hardy's own admission, his alleged pessimism is, in truth, only such "questioning in the exploration of reality, and is the first step toward the soul's betterment, and the body's also," as he explains in the "Apology" to Late Lyrics and Earlier (557). When he had subsumed dissonant perspectives into the discourse of the spirits in The Dynasts as in the collected poetry as a whole, he provided the format of his own historical relativism: Science, lovingkindness, and a modicum of free will that is in itself laden with possibility are the forces of Hardy's uncertainty principle that erect the only defense against the devouring darkness: •. . that whether the human and kindred animal races survive till the exhaustion or destruction of the globe, or whether the races perish and are succeeded by others before that conclusion comes, pain to all upon it, tongued or dumb, shall be kept down to a minimum by lovingkindness, operating through scientific knowledge, and activated by the modicum of free will conjecturally possessed by organic life when the mighty necessitating forces--unconscious or other--that have ‘the balancing of the clouds,‘ happen to be in equilibrium, which may or may not be often• (558) There can be no doubt that The Dynasts is Hardy's supreme balancing act of all the forces at work in his own version of historical relativism. The conversation of the two main characters outlines the division and yet reciprocity between two interpretations of time: the Spirit of the Years predicting obstacles in the path of survival and the Spirit of the Pities proclaiming faith in human potential. Together they form the "balancing of the clouds" that define the stability of variables necessary for humans to possess history rather than to be enslaved by it. Imbalance in human discourse results in War. The advent of World War I made Hardy deplore "the advance of material and scientific knowledge to the detriment of simple old-fashioned kindness." He foresaw that the wars of the future would be even more fiendish, and began to doubt that the world was worth saving. But in 1917, in a letter to the Royal Society of Literature, he wonders if the sentiment of patriotism can be expanding "to the whole Grlobe . .. That the sentiments of Foreignness . .. attach only to other planets and their inhabitants, if any." (L 174) Also in the "Apology" to Late Lyrics and Earlier, Hardy suggests that poetry might be a midwife at the birth of a new philosophy, the parents being religion and rationality, without which "the world must perish" (562). What endured for Hardy was the ship of time that carried compassion along with the power of adaptation and advanced systems of thought. He called The Dynasts "a chronicle-piece," a series of "historical ordinates." While the Years advance Hardy's passionless "Insight of the Ages," the Pities represent Hardy's poet's voice, approximating to "the Universal Sympathy" of human nature--"the spectator Idealized" of the Greek chorus (D xxv). Pity is a "young Shade," implying its growth in time (D 27). The "Ages render conscious" even the Spirit of the Years who is but "an accessory" to the Immanent. The Shade of the Earth is Hardy's long-suffering Nature, now conscious of the injustice of "these massed mortalities" and the foolishness "To down this dynasty, set that one up" (D 15). Both pity and nature relentlessly question time, who answers with insight on the forces that breed war--the "insular, empiric, un-ideal" of humanity (D 26). In response the Years state the intent to "lay bare / The Will-Webs of thy fearful questioning." By his "antique privileges" he can "visualize the Mode" for the other phantom intelligences that they may "See, then, and learn, ere my power pass again" (D 6). The visual revelations of time are a cosmophany that informs pity with understanding and shows the importance of the past in predicting the tendencies of the future. Hardy's verse-drama enables man to encounter himself entwined with the self-possessed momentum of an original force that binds all. The stage directions usher in the apparition produced by the Years: A New and penetrating light descends on the spectacle, enduing men and things with a seeming transparency, and exhibiting as one organism the anatomy of life and movement in all humanity and vitalized matter included in the display. (D 6) The Spirit of the Pities responds: Amid this scene of bodies substantive Strange waves I sight like winds grown visible, Which bear men's forms on their innumerous coils, Twining and serpentining round and through. Also retracting threads like gossamers-- Except in being irresistible-- Which complicate with some, and balance all. (D 7) Continuing with biogenic images of creation, the Years reveal the Immanent Will: These are the Prime Volitions,--fibrils, veins, Will-tissues, nerves, and pulses of the Cause, That heave throughout the Earth's compositure. Their sum is like the lobule of a Brain Evolving always that it wots not of; A Brain whose whole connotes the Everywhere, And whose procedure may but be discerned By phantom eyes like ours; the while unguessed Of those it stirs, who (even as ye do) dream Their motions free, their orderings supreme; Each life apart from each, with power to mete Its own day's measures; balanced, self complete; Though they subsist but atoms of the One Labouring through all, divisible from none; But this no further now. Deem yet man's deeds selfdone. (D 7) History itself must be queried. Although Hardy and Spengler had to fend off criticism of pessimism, both, like Nietzsche, insisted on questioning received theories of "order." As Greorge Eliot states in her essay on the "Historic Imagination," "the grand elements of history require the illumination of special imaginative treatment." The "veracious imagination" retraces in detail "the various steps by which a political or social change was reached, using all extant evidence and supplying deficiencies by careful analogical creation" (288). Such an imagination not only inquires as to how change occurred but also commemorates "the pathos, the heroism, often accompanying the decay and final struggle of old systems" (289). The function of pity coincides with the function of the poet, to ask of history why the "Will heaves through Space, and moulds the times, / With mortals for Its finger!!" and why "men's passions, virtues, visions, crimes, / Obey resistlessly / The mutative, unmotivated, dominant Thing" (D 191). But the Years caution the Pities to refrain from a unilateral criticism of the past, in view of the helplessness of man to counter the force "from the Back of Things" ...as It hauls / The halyards of the world" (D 505). As if to assent to Comte's idea that continuity with the past must be recognized in order for it to be transcended (410), the Spirit of the Years urges the Pities to accept the ruin before them as "processive:" Young Spirits, be not critical of That Which was before, and shall be after you! For what judgment can ye blame?-- In that immense unweeting Mind is shown One far above forethinking; processive, Rapt, superconscious; a Clairvoyancy That knows not what It knows, yet works therewith.-- (D 99) Bergson thought that the more we study time, the more we shall comprehend the different ways that duration can mean invention, the creation of forms, the continual elaboration of the absolutely new (11). As in Lecomte de Noiiy's cicatrization, the healing of wounds, the index of time is the index of growth. And as the biologist Alexis Carrel speculated, time is the real fourth dimension that enters creatively into things as another component of growth and decay (Bergson xli). World War I damaged the reputation of such philosophies of an optimistic cast, and diminished further any hope Hardy had remaining to him. But even in the apocalyptic vision of The Dynasts, there is a hint that time may yet amend the world: "Chorus of the Years" Nay, nay, nay; Your hasty judgments stay, Until the topmost cyme Have crowned the last entablature of Time. 0 heap not blame on that in-brooding Will; 0 pause, till all things all their days fulfi!! (D 100) As Hardy says in "The Dame of Athelhall," "So Time rights all things in long, long years" (156). Any hopeful turn that may be glimpsed in his philosophy might partly be attributable to Spencer's theory of an immeasurable past and an immeasurable future. In 1893, Hardy referred again to Spencer's First Principles as a book which acted on him, "as a sort of patent expander when I had been particularly narrowed down by the events of life. Whether the theories are true or false, their effect upon the imagination is unquestionable, and I think beneficial" (Millgate 246). However, in The Dynasts, Hardy's main concern was scarcely to produce a paean of hope. Because he believed that events are "the outcome of passivity, acted upon by unconscious propensity" (N 31), there are few variables to ensure our flight from "oblivion's cave." However, he also believed that the future may not necessarily be subjected to causes already known, but may be influenced by causes "not yet operative": "The outside force that may swerve the Will is man's consciousness, man's exercise of his limited freedom, and hence man's pressure upon the Will" (Bailey 167). One of Hardy's idealities was woman. He pursued the ideal of the feminine all his life, even regarding many women as Shelleyan epipsyches (Millgate 91). And from many clues offered in his biography, his poetry and fiction, it is likely that he garnered the hope that there could be no question of recidivism with the integration of woman into the whole system of influence that pressures the Will. Deprived of this influence, the images of men at war in The Dynasts are that of an exclusive fraternalism that Robert Grraves interprets in The White Goddess as that bond among men for which Socrates was punished: "the male intellect trying to make itself spiritually self-sufficient" (12). One of the two most heavily marked chapters in Hardy's copy of Comte's book on positivism was "The Influence of Positivism on Women" (Millgate 91). In this chapter, Comte advocates the cause of women's social sympathies as a crucial component of "our moral constitution" (234). Comte felt that the influence of woman was necessary for the advance of the race out of retrograde military systems. As a solution to world problems, war is incompatible with the social unity women, by their very nature, will create in the future (294). In The Dynasts there are signs that Hardy shared this view, that the influence of the feminine may provide another variable in the development of the Will in time to a point of consciousness. In the dialogue between Napoleon and Josephine in The Dynasts it is clear that Josephine's own future is in doubt as well as Napoleon's, but her perspective on the unknown is open to its possibilities. Napoleon complains that the "worm / Time ever keeps in hand for gnawing me! / The question of my dynasty--Which bites / Closer and closer as the years will on" (D 200). Josephine offers the idea of relative time in place of Napoleon's determinism. She counsels that time cannot be reduced to a disease eroding his dynastic future. She implies that only his fear that his line will end has created this despair, with the gnawings of rumour, by men who "daily sowed / These choking tares within your fecund brain" (D 201). By the same token, in their argumentation, the Pities remind the Years of the past when "Men gained cognition with the flux of time": And wherefore not the Force informing them, When far-ranged aions past all fathoming, Shall have swung by, and stand as backward grow? (D 522) And to the Years, the Pities posit the existence of another Will, "The Will that fed my hope" (D 522), that cannot be accounted for by the reckoning of the clock alone. Likewise, Josephine urges patience, asking Napoleon not to ransom their history together for "the lineage of mere flesh" (D 203). As she points out, "Grreat Caesar" ...Sank sonless to his rest" and Frederick / Saw, too, no heir" (D 203): O my husband long, Will you not purge your soul to value best That high heredity from brain to brain Which supersedes mere sequences of blood ... ? (D 203) She attempts to persuade Napoleon to pursue the one "who shows / Napoleon’ s soul in later bodiment," rather than seeking a physical line of succession (D 204). In The Dynasts Hardy writes about the madness of a world where time is regarded as the vehicle of dynasties, a world that is in itself a dynasty of men. But he must have realized along with Comte that female passivity must be overcome if the Will is to become enlightened. His sympathy for the plight of women living under the domination of men and machines is obvious in his fiction, and particularly profound in Tess. And The Dynasts portrays women in cameo roles walking headlong into immolation in search for their families, or as ways for others to aggrandize power, or as simply abandoned for their inutility like the tragic Josephine who shrinks to the size of the images of her own fear. She is frightened if "a mouse but cheep, or silent leaf sail down" (D 201). The idea that the historical passivity of the female, and by inference, the passivity of the social sympathies, only deepens the passivity of the Will could not have been lost on Hardy. The passivity and blindness of the Will is one idea upon which Hardy would have agreed with Nietzsche, but he states that "to model our conduct on Nature's apparent conduct, as Nietzsche would have taught, can only bring disaster to humanity" (L 339). Hardy's belief that lovingkindness is the only cure for the world's ills sharply opposes Nietzsche's doctrine in In Beyond Good and Evil, where he states that "the feelings of devotion, self-sacrifice for one's neighbor, the whole morality of self-denial must be questioned mercilessly . .. There is too much charm and sugar in these feelings ‘for others,‘ ‘not for myself,‘ for us not to need to become doubly suspicious at this point and ask: ‘are these not perhaps--seductions?‘" (45) Here Nietzsche speaks with the voice of Hardy's Blind Intention in The Dynasts, as the voice of the one selfattending impulse of the world, absorbed in the propensities of the drive to fulfill itself. But there is another temporal contingency in the development of the Will. Added to the principles already discussed, there is the speculative gaze of the poet sweeping all the tenuities of hope into the historical relativities of his vision. The growth of consciousness in the Will is a clearly-- even graphically--defined hope in The Dynasts. But it is "especially clear when we lay aside Schopenhauer's concept of Reality and observe Von Hartmann's concept of Reality as Mind" (Bailey 171). The mind of the poet envisions "all the years and days" of earth and heaven (474). The conscience of the poet-spider weaving a "continuity of consciousness" (L 393) holds us up against the dissolution of the world. In his notebooks he wrote that poetry in particular engaged in "the noble and profound application of ideas to life" (Millgate 246). The poet assimilates the discourse of hopeful relativism, preventing the growth of consciousness from becoming a Sisyphean task. Unlike Kant's idea of time as a solely subjective form, Hardy's time as well as Spencer's is the abstract of all sequences (Spencer 146), derived from "the widest uniformities in our experiences of the relations of Matter, Motion, and Force; and that Matter, Motion and Force are but symbols of the Unknown Reality" (509). As Spencer claimed, "All thought is speculative, all knowledge relative" (57). In the constant revision of his temporal narrative, Hardy created the relational discourse of The Dynasts and the poetry as a whole. Poetic idealities weave a webbed synthesis of the elusive present, the protean past, and the speculative future, securing all intractable forms to the ground of his moral force. In this way what Fichte described comes to pass when consciousness "bends back upon itself" so that "the ego simply posits in an original way its own being" (45). In reconstructing the original consciousness of humanity, the words of poetry possess no end in time. As late as 1909, in the advent of the first world war, Hardy could still say, on the death of fellow poet-novelist George Meredith, "Through the world's vaporous vitiate air / His words wing on--as live words will" (298). Like the "bending-ocean," Hardy's reference in "Drinking Song" to Einstein's "notion" that there's no time, no space, no motion," the Spirits’ conception of relative time in The Dynasts is the looped orbit in which the world, nearing "the end of visioning," has yet to be abandoned by the promise of the cradle. The poet's radiance of mind closes time like the van of a bird's wing, the way time closes in A Pair of Blue Eyes, "with past and future overlapping in the present." The Spirits announce: We'll close up Time, as a bird its van, We'll traverse Space, as Spirits can, Link pulses severed by leagues and years, Bring cradles into touch with biers; So that the far-off Consequence appears Prompt at the heel of the foregone Cause. (D 7) Hardy's reading of Darwin and his inability to have faith in divine providence led him to the surprising conclusion that the exertions of nature in their fight for survival should guarantee compassionate societies. When he was almost seventy he wrote: Few people seem to perceive fully as yet that the most far-reaching consequence of the establishment of the common origin of all species is ethical; that it logically involved a readjustment of altruistic morals by enlarging as a necessit)‘ of rightness the application of what has been called "‘The Golden Rule" beyond the area of mere mankind to that of the whole animal kingdom. Possibly Darwin himself did not wholly perceive it, though he alluded to it. (EH 16) The voice of the Pities is that of the poet lifting the curse of the narrowing years and pointing out the correspondence between human feeling and real possibilities for escape from ironic time into another dimension where melody replaces the cacophonies of war. When Hardy was writing The Dynasts he told William Archer: [War] is doomed by the gradual growth of the introspective faculty in mankind--of their power of putting themselves in another place, and taking a point of view that is not their own. In another aspect, this may be called the growth of a sense of humour. Not today, nor tomorrow, but in the fullness of time, war will come to an end, not for moral reasons, but because of its absurdity. (EH 47) The poet's speculations on ultimate modes of being serve to derail linear temporality by regenerating original man and reconciling him with the primary functions of social progress. In desperate solicitude the poet becomes "the consciousness of the Will informing" (D 525). He engages in the work of prodding the Will to incarnate itself, to "become conscious of the pain within Itself" (Bailey 176): We would establish those of kindlier build In fair Compassions skilled, Men of deep art in life-development; Watchers and warders of thy varied lands, Men surfeited of laying heavy hands Upon the innocent, The mild, the fragile, the obscure, content Among the myriads of thy family Those, too, who love the tree, the excellent, And made their daily moves a melody. (D 3) Space and time are "A Fancy!--a Vision's necromancy" that the Pities would shape to make men recoil from "Devastation," "The unnatural Monster, loosely jointed / With an Apocalyptic Being's Shape" (D 474). In the closing lines of The Dynasts, the choruses of the Pities elucidate Hardy's uncertain yet irrepressible vision of a new future where such monstrous products of time will be no more and the wakened heart of the world will mend itself to "a genial germing purpose, and for loving-kindness’ sake" (D 525). The chorus expresses Hardy's hopeful interpretation of Darwin's evolution in which an amended time produces a new race desiring harmony: But--a stirring thrills the air Like to sounds of joyance there That the rages Of the ages Shall be cancelled, and deliverance offered from the darts that were Consciousness the Will informing, till It fashion all things Fair! (D 525) It must be said, nonetheless, that although Hardy ardently hoped that there were some higher purpose, he was certainly not a finalist in the manner of Teilhard de Chardin or Bergson. Even with regard to meeting Emma, for example, he could not share her conviction of their destined attraction: And in "Agnostoi Theo" the last poem in Poems of the Past and Present Hardy alludes only to the possibility of some vague ultimate purpose. The ways of Grod may "grow percipient with advance of days" and wrongs "May be discerned . .. Dying as of selfslaughter." But this is a poem to an unknown god and thus, a prayer for beneficence in an unknowable plan. In Evelyn Hardy's biography of Hardy she notes that William Barnes, the regional poet of Dorset much admired by Hardy, uttered a halting prayer on his deathbed that was a simple reflection of his world view: "I want to say--I thank Grod--For all the pain--and trials-and all that I have passed through--I thank Thee." On Hardy's own deathbed he asked that a prayer to Grod from the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyd'm be read to him: For all the sin wherewith the Face of Man Is blacken'd, Man's forgiveness give--and take! Evelyn Hardy comments on the great difference between Barnes's prayer and the scourging plea in Fitzgerald's lines. She incisively states that they express succinctly, and with telling emphasis, "more clearly than longer comments may do, the chasm lying between the days before and after the publication of the Origin of Species" (EH 321). Although written very early in his career as poet, the last few poems of Poems of the Past and Present, subtitled Retrospect, prophesy a farewell to the vision of a poet and to the shapes of time that visited him. In "I Have Lived with Shades," written in 1899, the "dim style" of his impressions consists of "Dooms / Halfwove and shapeless" in the room of the "To-Be" and the "dwindled dust / And rot and rust / Of things that were." He does not recognize himself in man: "He moves me not at all" (184-185). In "Memory and I" Hardy's ideals of his youth are imprisoned in a phantom lying in "a crumbled cot / Beneath a tottering tree" in "gaunt gardens lone," his hope lies in a "tomb" of books, his faith, "in a ravaged aisle / Bowed down on beuded knee," and his love "in an ageing shape / Where beauty used to be" (185-186). At the end of his life, even though a jumbled miscellany of moods intervened in his thirty-year career as poet, Hardy's hope again dimmed that devolutionary blindness would be edited out of history. He vainly wished for a global community of spirit and action (L 393), a longing for what Matthew Arnold in "Resignation" called "That general life, which does not cease / Whose secret is not joy, but peace" (414). The implications of Hardy's farewell to poetry are bound together in three poems that appear at the very end of Winter Words. As if to remind us once again of I beheld not where all was so fleet That a Plan of the past Which had ruled us from birthtime to meet Was accomplished at last (432) his distant perspective on the world with "its rush and rout," he positions himself in his poet's bower in "A Private Man on Public Men": "quiet, screened, unknown / Pondering upon some stick or stone" (927)• He then utters a chilling prophesy of the ethnic cleansing of World War II and beyond in "We Are Getting to the End": We are getting to the end of visioning The impossible within this universe, Such as that better whiles may follow worse, And that our race may mend by reasoning. We know that even as larks in cages sing Unthoughtful of deliverance from the curse That holds them lifelong in a latticed hearse, We ply spasmodically our pleasuring. And that when nations set them to lay waste Their neighbors’ heritage by foot and horse, And hack their pleasant plains in festering seams, They may again,--not warely, or from taste, But tickled mad by some demonic force.- Yes. We are getting to the end of dreams! (929) Hardy's very last poem of more than nine hundred in the collected poetry is a resolve of silence after yet another vision of the next world war reveals an apocalypse "like a sound of moan / When the charneleyed / Pale Horse has nighed: / Yea, none shall gather what I hide!" (929). Hardy's looped orbit of history is now a line drawn in the sand, its backward movement prophesying a future that retraces the devastations of the past: Let Time roll backward if it will; (Magians who drive the midnight quill With brain aglow Can see it so,) What I have learnt no man shall know. And if my vision range beyond The blinkered sight of souls in bond, --By troth made free-- I'll let all be, And show to no man what I see. 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