By The Earth's Corpse

I

   "O Lord, why grievest Thou? -
   Since Life has ceased to be
   Upon this globe, now cold
   As lunar land and sea,
And humankind, and fowl, and fur
   Are gone eternally,
All is the same to Thee as ere
   They knew mortality."

II

"O Time," replied the Lord,
   "Thou read'st me ill, I ween;
Were all THE SAME, I should not grieve
   At that late earthly scene,
Now blestly past--though planned by me
   With interest close and keen! -
Nay, nay: things now are NOT the same
   As they have earlier been.

III

   "Written indelibly
   On my eternal mind
   Are all the wrongs endured
   By Earth's poor patient kind,
Which my too oft unconscious hand
   Let enter undesigned.
No god can cancel deeds foredone,
   Or thy old coils unwind!

IV

   "As when, in Noe's days,
   I whelmed the plains with sea,
   So at this last, when flesh
   And herb but fossils be,
And, all extinct, their piteous dust
   Revolves obliviously,
That I made Earth, and life, and man,
   It still repenteth me!"

by Thomas Hardy

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