On this day in 1840 the English author and poet Thomas Hardy was born.
Hardy qualified as an architect but practiced this profession very little. He is known for his romantic yet realistic portrayals of country life and his novels; Far From the Madding Crowd, Tess of the D’Urbervilles and Under the Greenwood Tree are still popular.
Hardy struggled for much of his career with Victorian conservative values and several of his books received a bad press because of their sympathetic treatment of fallen women. His novel Jude the Obscure was sometimes sold in paper bags because of its treatment of sex and religion. Hardy is regarded as an important poet as well as a leading novelist. Here is one of his poems, Places:
Nobody says: Ah, that is the place
Where chanced, in the hollow of years ago,
What none of the Three Towns cared to know –
The birth of a little girl of grace
The sweetest the house saw, first or last;
Yet it was so on that day long past.
Night, morn, and noon.
…Nobody calls to mind that here
Upon Boterel Hill, where the carters skid,
With cheeks whose airy flush outbid
Fresh fruit in bloom, and free of fear,
She cantered down, as if she must fall
(Though she never did),
To the charm of all.
Nay: one there is to whom these things,
That nobody else’s mind calls back,
Have a savour that scenes in being lack,
And a presence more than the actual brings;
To whom to-day is beneaped and stale,
And its urgent clack but a vapid tale.
Today I will try not to judge, but to understand and to help.