To an Unborn Pauper Child

Thomas Hardy (1840-1928)

  Breathe not, hid Heart: cease silently,
  And though thy birth-hour beckons thee,
    Sleep the long sleep:
    The Doomsters heap
  Travails and teens around us here,
And Time-wraiths turn our songsingings to fear.

  Hark, how the peoples surge and sigh,
  And laughters fail, and greetings die:
    Hopes dwindle; yea,
    Faiths waste away,
  Affections and enthusiasms numb:
Thou canst not mend these things if thou dost come.

  Had I the ear of wombèd souls
  Ere their terrestrial chart unrolls,
    And thou wert free
    To cease, or be,
  Then would I tell thee all I know,
And put it to thee: Wilt thou take Life so?

  Vain vow! No hint of mine may hence
  To theeward fly: to thy locked sense
    Explain none can
    Life’s pending plan:
  Thou wilt thy ignorant entry make
Though skies spout fire and blood and nations quake.

  Fain would I, dear, find some shut plot
  Of earth’s wide wold for thee, where not
    One tear, one qualm,
    Should break the calm.
  But I am weak as thou and bare;
No man can change the common lot to rare.

  Must come and bide. And such are we—
  Unreasoning, sanguine, visionary—
    That I can hope
    Health, love, friends, scope
  In full for thee; can dream thou wilt find
Joys seldom yet attained by humankind!


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