6 January 2014

The Cave of the Unborn

Thomas Hardy, "The Unborn," Twentieth Century Poetry, ed. Harold Monro (London: Chatto & Windus, 1929), p. 26:
I rose at night and visited
   The Cave of the Unborn:
And crowding shapes surrounded me
For tidings of the life to be,
Who long had prayed the silent Head
   To speed their advent morn.

Their eyes were lit with artless trust,
   Hope thrilled their every tone;
"A scene the loveliest, is it not?
A pure delight, a beauty-spot
Where all is gentle, true and just,
   And darkness is unknown?"

My heart was anguished for their sake,
   I could not frame a word;
But they descried my sunken face,
And seemed to read therein, and trace
The news that pity would not break,
   Nor truth leave unaverred.

And as I silently retired
   I turned and watched them still:
And they came helter-skelter out,
Driven forward like a rabble rout
Into the world they had so desired,
   By the all-immanent Will.