Featured Poem: The Self-Unseeing by Thomas Hardy

We read this poem in a communications team meeting a few weeks ago and found it a captivating one to explore, and have since found it to be a poem that really stays with you after reading. Written by Victorian writer Thomas Hardy –  known for his dark, gothic style – we hope you find today’s featured poem an interesting read.

Here is the ancient floor,
Footworn and hollowed and thin,
Here was the former door
Where the dead feet walked in.

She sat here in her chair,
Smiling into the fire;
He who played stood there,
Bowing it higher and higher.

Childlike, I danced in a dream;
Blessings emblazoned that day;
Everything glowed with a gleam;
Yet we were looking away!

Thomas Hardy

1 thought on “Featured Poem: The Self-Unseeing by Thomas Hardy”

  1. The poem opens in a sad tone with imagery of death. The lines, “Here is the ancient floor, / Footworn and hollowed and thin,” are symbolic of being worn down by a hard life. Hardy is describing himself in these lines. With the next lines, “Here was the former door/ Where the dead feet walked in,” Hardy is describing the people in his life that he has lost to death. This unhappy first stanza also shows a longing for a time that has pass by.

    The next stanza has a much more uplifting tone. Hardy is remembering much happier times in these lines. The first two lines, “She sat here in her chair, / Smiling into the fire,” are a reference to his mother. The biography explains that not only did Hardy’s father play the violin but he also taught his son a command of the instrument. With this knowledge the reader can see that the lines, “He who played stood there, / Bowing it higher and higher,” are a reference to Hardy’s father playing the violin. These are cherished memories to the poet.

    The last stanza has a melancholy tone full of yearning that is similar to the start of the poem which helps to bring the piece full circle. In the poem when Hardy says, “Childlike, I danced in a dream; / Blessings emblazoned that day,” he is longing for the memories and people he mentioned earlier. The last lines, “Everything glowed with a gleam / Yet we were looking away,” are an outcry by the poet for the parts of his life that slipped through his hands too quickly.

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