Background

Hardy discovered his poetic genius after the death of his estranged wife, Emma. The feelings of remorse and guilt led him to pen some of his finest poems in a volume entitled Satires of Circumstance (1914). This poem is about the early days of their relationship when he unexpectedly meets her for the second time.

Metaphorical inference

The poet was at his meal just before departure when he sees the woman walking on the wet lawn. She was alone and the dim light and the candles burning inside the room gave a surreal ghostly feel to the outdoors. He had scarce expected to see her a second time, much less so early in the morning. It seemed as though destiny was bringing them together. There was nothing in the scene to indicate anything significant was about to happen but he feels impelled by some force to go out and meet her. Even a feather could have tipped the scale of fortune against their love, but when they came in together finally, her cheeks burned crimson with happiness.

Summary

The central idea of the poem is how the poet meets the woman he is interested in a second time. He had not expected to meet her another time but it happens, probably because it was destined that way. At the most unexpected moment, when he is about to leave, he sees her alone in the garden. He follows her out though much could have gone against love. But things go right for them and they come back together, the girl’s face aflame with happiness.

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Analysis

Stanza 1

From the room in which he was sitting for his meal before leaving, the poet sees the woman he is interested in, walking on the wet lawn. It is early morning and the candles inside the room lighting it up, gave a surreal, ghostly quality to the outdoors. The rhyme scheme the poet uses here in this poem is ABABCDCD. Hardy is skilled in evoking atmosphere that is dreamy and mysterious.

Stanza 2

That dawn itself had a ghostly quality and at the moment when he least expected to see her again, he beheld her. Very likely, destiny which ruled them from birth seemed to be putting events forward at last.

Stanza 3

At that point, he had no way of knowing where the events were leading to. The beginnings were insignificant but the poet felt impelled to by some force to get up and go to the woman who was still outside.

Stanza 4

He follows her along a path that had tangled boughs overhead, calling out that he would soon be gone. But even at that point, a mere feather could have tipped the scales against love. But, when they come back inside, her face burned crimson with joy.

Overall impression

Unlike many of hardy’s other poems about his wife, this one does not have that brooding quality. Though it has a mysterious air, the subject matter is a happy one. In some places, the poem reads like prose.