November 16, 2012

Poetry Friday--"The Garden Seat"

Here, today, is a poem by Thomas Hardy, whom you may not know was a poet as well as a novelist:
The Garden Seat

Its former green is blue and thin,
And its once firm legs sink in and in;
Soon it will break down unaware,
Soon it will break down unaware.

At night when reddest flowers are black
Those who once sat thereon come back;
Quite a row of them sitting there,
Quite a row of them sitting there.

With them the seat does not break down,
Nor winter freeze them, nor floods drown,
For they are as light as upper air,
They are as light as upper air!

Found in Garden Poems, selected and edited by John Hollander, part of the "Everyman's Library Pocket Poets" series.
I suppose it would be more fitting for Halloween, but I think "The Garden Seat" is more about memory than ghosts. November is certainly a time for thinking back and holding onto what has past. What do you think?

This week the Poetry Friday Round-Up is found at Anastasia Suen's Booktalking.

Photo © Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.


  1. I think you're right, Diane. It could be about memory/the past as much as ghosts. I like the line "At night when reddest flowers are black" -- what a great way to describe the darkness.

  2. Love this line:
    "At night when reddest flowers are black"

    Thanks for sharing! :-)

  3. Thanks for posting this poem, Diane. I love Hardy--he was once-upon-a-time the focus of my (never finished) dissertation... What I think, sadly, though, is this poem IS about ghosts--very Hardian, I think, to remember the dead.

  4. Beautiful poem, Diane - one I didn't know but am delighted to now. The repeating lines are both comforting and haunting, if that's possible! Thanks for sharing.

  5. Quite a haunting poem -- you're right -- could be about memory as well as ghosts. "Quite a row of them sitting there" gives me the shivers.

  6. I have long been a Hardy fan. Sometimes I think we are few and far between. :)

  7. Who knew there were so many Hardy fans! I'm glad you all liked my pick for today. Although, I'll agree with Julie, it's about ghosts, I'm still going to read it as memory. Soon it will break down unaware. Just like my memory--breaking down and I don't even remember what it is I've forgotten!

    Have a great weekend, and if you're in the area of Portsmouth, NH, I recommend you catch a performance of Run, Turkey, Run!: the Musical at the Seacoast Rep.

  8. The repeating last line of every stanza gives it the feel of an incantation. I love your thought that this is about memories. Ghosts or memories, it gives a delicious chill.

  9. Incantation is a perfect description!

  10. This is exactly what comes to mind when seeing a much-sat-upon park bench - the ghosts of people past who taken moments to sit and rest and just be.

  11. Love this - it perfectly captures the sensation I have when I stand on some ancient ruin or travel the same street that Caesar traveled. I get chills and just imagine the millions of sandal-clad feet that passed through thousands of years before me. Gets me every time.

  12. Renee, I used to do the same type of thing with old pennies--wondering who's pockets they had jingled in. It's mind-boggling.