An Autumn Stroll In The Park

It was a pleasant Autumn day at the turn of the century. A 60-year man decided to go for a stroll in his favorite park.  He had walked in this park in all seasons of the year and marveled at the beauty which each season brought.

As he walked, he noticed an elderly lady raking leaves.  He paused and watched her for a while.

The bucolic scenery added to the woman’s laborious chore.  There is nothing like watching the dancing leaves in the cool breeze as they paint the air with their chromatic display.

Returning to his home, the man wrote a poem of his experience in the park.  It has become one of Thomas Hardy’s 1000 plus poems.

Thomas Hardy was the great Victorian author and poet.  Listed below is his poem from that Autumn day:


Autumn in King’s Hintock Park

Here by the baring bough

  Raking up leaves,

Often I ponder how

  Springtime deceives—

I, an old woman now,

  Raking up leaves.

Here in the avenue

  Raking up leaves

Lords’ ladies pass in view,

  Until one heaves

Sighs at life’s russet hue,

  Raking up leaves!

Just as my shape you see

  Raking up leaves,

I saw, when fresh and free,

  Those memory weaves

Into gray ghosts by me,

  Raking up leaves.

Yet, Dear, though one may sigh,

  Raking up leaves,

New leaves will dance on high—

  Earth never grieves! —

Will not, when missed am I

  Raking up leaves

Poetry of the Victorian Period, Scott, Foresman and Company Copyright 1930, page 933.  This is a book in my collection.


In many ways this poem summarizes Thomas Hardy’s life view.  You are born and you will die.  Unlike the falling leaves of Autumn, once you have fallen and decay, then you are but a memory to those who knew you or knew about you.

To Hardy Spring would not bring a resurrection from the harshness of Winter’s death.  One’s song ended when the leaf touched the earth, and like the elderly lady raking leaves your essence would cease in the fires of Autumn—like smoke drifting toward heaven but never reaching its destination because it dissipates as it rises.

Regardless of Hardy’s view it is a moving poem with imagery which infuses the reader with a sense of wonder about the natural order of things. There is an order to things on this planet traversing the cosmos.

Sadly, for many, they never realize their cosmic connection.  The cosmic ocean can be a place of serenity or the end of life’s journey on the shore as one’s song fades forever into the roar of waves on the rocky cliffs of Fortunes Well.


G. D. Williams © 2017

POST 732



Thomas Hardy (June 2, 1840-January 11, 1928)

One of the most renowned poets and novelists in English literary history, Thomas Hardy was born in 1840 in the English village of Higher Bockhampton in the county of Dorset. He died in 1928 at Max Gate, a house he built for himself and his first wife, Emma Lavinia Gifford, in Dorchester, a few miles from his birthplace. Hardy’s youth was influenced by the musicality of his father, a stonemason and fiddler, and his mother, Jemima Hand Hardy, often described as the real guiding star of Hardy’s early life.

In March 1870 Hardy had been sent to make an architectural assessment of the lonely and dilapidated Church of St. Juliot in Cornwall. There—in romantic circumstances later poignantly recalled in prose and verse—he first met the rector’s vivacious sister-in-law, Emma Lavinia Gifford, who became his wife four years later. She actively encouraged and assisted him in his literary endeavours, and his next novel, A Pair of Blue Eyes (1873), drew heavily upon the circumstances of their courtship for its wild Cornish setting and its melodramatic story of a young woman (somewhat resembling Emma Gifford) and the two men, friends become rivals, who successively pursue, misunderstand, and fail her.

Thomas Hardy Society

The Thomas Hardy Society is an educational Charity founded in 1968 with the intention of promoting public knowledge and understanding of the life and works of the Dorset poet and novelist to anyone with an interest in Thomas Hardy anywhere in the world. It is a Society as much for the lay-enthusiast as the scholar, student or general reader.


How Thomas Hardy became everyone’s favorite misanthrope.

For the rest of his life, then, Hardy set to writing poetry with the grateful fervor of an escaped prisoner; his “Collected Poems” fill more than eight hundred pages. His sheer productivity, and the eccentricities of his verse style, at first made his poetry easier to mock than appreciate. One reviewer of “Wessex Poems” wondered “why he did not . . . burn the verse” instead of publishing it, and modernist critics generally treated it with condescension. But today Hardy’s poetry is beloved for precisely the qualities that once made it unfashionable: its profusion and formal variety, its homely, surprising diction, its interest in narrative, and, above all, its unchallengeable sincerity. Unlike the poetry of Yeats or Eliot, Hardy’s poems emerge naturally from the occasions of his life. He can be provoked to verse an old Wessex legend or the latest bulletins from the Boer War, a fleeting memory of an old romance or the sinking of the Titanic.

The Literature Network: Thomas Hardy

On England’s Coast, Thomas Hardy Made His World

It was in Lulwind Cove, an inlet on England’s south coast, that the dastardly Sergeant Troy took an impromptu swim in “Far From the Madding Crowd,” Thomas Hardy’s 1874 novel about an uncommonly independent Victorian woman and her suitors. The water in the cove was “smooth as a pond,” Hardy wrote, until Troy “swam between the two projecting spurs of rock which formed the pillars of Hercules to this miniature Mediterranean,” whereupon he was swept out to sea and presumed drowned, only to make a dramatic reappearance — this being a Hardy novel — at a most inconvenient moment.