Poem introduction

'Thoughts of Phena At News of her Death', is typical of Thomas Hardy’s poetic outlook: nostalgic, dramatic and not a little gloomy though on this occasion there might be good reason. Phena is one Tryphena Sparks, Hardy’s cousin, rumoured to be Hardy’s lover while he was a young man and, according to some sources, the mother of his illegitimate son.

Thoughts of Phena

At news of her death

Not a line of her writing have I,
Not a thread of her hair,
No mark of her late time as dame in her dwelling, whereby
I may picture her there;
And in vain do I urge my unsight
To conceive my lost prize
At her close, whom I knew when her dreams were upbrimming with light,
And with laughter her eyes.

What scenes spread around her last days,
Sad, shining, or dim?
Did her gifts and compassions enray and enarch her sweet ways
With an aureate nimb?
Or did life-light decline from her years,
And mischances control
Her full day-star; unease, or regret, or forebodings, or fears
Disennoble her soul?

Thus I do but the phantom retain
Of the maiden of yore
As my relic; yet haply the best of her--fined in my brain
It may be the more
That no line of her writing have I,
Nor a thread of her hair,
No mark of her late time as dame in her dwelling, whereby
I may picture her there.

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Recordings

Thomas Hardy

Thomas Hardy Downloads read by Anthony Thwaite & Lawrence Sail

1The Man He Killed (read by Anthony Thwaite)

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2Drummer Hodge (read by Anthony Thwaite)

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3The Ruined Maid (read by Anthony Thwaite)

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4The Voice (read by Anthony Thwaite)

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5The Darkling Thrush (read by Lawrence Sail)

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6In Time of the Breaking of Nations (read by Anthony Thwaite)

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