I Have Lived With Shades

I

I have lived with Shades so long,
So long have talked to them,
I sped to street and throng,
That sometimes they
In their dim style
Will pause awhile
To hear my say;

II

And take me by the hand,
And lead me through their rooms
In the To-Be, where Dooms
Half-wove and shapeless stand:
And show from there
The dwindled dust
And rot and rust
Of things that were.

III

"Now turn," they said to me
One day: "Look whence we came,
And signify his name
Who gazes thence at thee" --
-- "Nor name nor race
Know I, or can,"
I said, "Of man
So commonplace."

IV

"He moves me not at all:
I note no ray or jot
Of rareness in his lot,
Or star exceptional.
Into the dim
Dead throngs around
He'll sink, nor sound
Be left of him."

V

"Yet," said they, "his frail speech,
Hath accents pitched like thine --
Thy mould and his define
A likeness each to each --
But go! Deep pain
Alas, would be
His name to thee,
And told in vain!"

by Thomas Hardy

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