Introduction

Thomas Hardy was born in Dorset in 1840, the son of a stonemason and builder, and at the age of 18, he became an architect's apprentice.  He lived in London for 5 years from the age of 22 however he returned to Dorset concerned for his health but also determined to write. All of his major novels are set in the southwest of England in a fictional landscape he called "Wessex", named after the medieval Anglo-Saxon kingdom.  Although many of the novels' locations are real, he always gave them fictional names.

Hardy was disposed to write about suffering and tragedy.  The death of his first wife Emma led him to write some of his finest love poetry.  After his death, his ashes were interred in Poets's Corner at Westminster Abbey.

Atkinson, Sam, editor. The Literature book, London: Dorling Kindersley, 2016, p.193.

Afterwards

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 across 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 warm,

  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.'

 'The final poem of the volume 'Afterwards' was read at a memorial service for Hardy shortly after his death, and by W.H. Auden at the end of his inaugural address as Professor of Poetry at Oxford in 1956.