Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Thomas Hardy: Architectural Masks

I have The Wordsworth Poetry Library edition of Thomas Hardy's poetry, The Works of Thomas Hardy, which contains all of his poetry.  Every so often I take it down and browse through it, seeing what pops what.  I'm invariably surprised by the wide variety of his poetry, some somewhat dour, some cheerful, but all thoughtful.  This is one I just came across, one I don't remember having read before.

Architectural Masks
There is a house with ivied walls,
And mullioned windows worn and old,
And the long dwellers in those halls
Have souls that know but sordid calls,
          And daily dote on gold.

In blazing brick and plated show
Not far away a "villa" gleams,
And here a family few may know,
With book and pencil, viol and bow,
           Lead inner lives of dreams.

The philosophic passers say,
"See that old mansion mossed and fair,
Poetic souls therein are they:
And O that gaudy box!  Away,
            You vulgar people there."

Hardy was trained as an architect and worked for about five years for an architectural firm.  I wonder if any of his experiences as an architect are reflected above. 


  1. I did not know Thomas Hardy wrote so much poetry.Thanks for letting me know about this collection!

  2. Cheryl,

    Neither did I. When I first purchased the book, it was so thick, over 900 pages, that I thought it contained novels, short stories, and poetry. I was surprised to find it contained only his poetry. I haven't done a close count, but I estimate that there are over 900 poems in the collection.

    Also, some of the poems are directly related to his novels.

    Hardy always considered himself a poet first. He wrote novels to support himself.

    He reminds me of Robert Graves, author of _I, Claudius_. The following is a quotation from _A Book of Days for the Literary Year_.

    1895 Robert Graves is born in London. Such successful novels as _I, Claudius will finance his first love, poetry. 'Prose books are the show dogs I breed and sell to support my cat.'"