Neutral Tones by Thomas Hardy
A work colleague and I have been talking poetry. She quoted to me this poem (Neutral Tones by Thomas Hardy) which wrings out the last vestiges of love in a relationship gone wrong: beautiful and heartbreaking. My favourite line is: "the smile on your mouth was the deadest thing/ Alive enough to have strength to die".
We stood by a pond that winter day,
And the sun was white, as though chidden of God,
And a few leaves lay on the starving sod;
– They had fallen from an ash, and were gray.
Your eyes on me were as eyes that rove
Over tedious riddles of years ago;
And some words played between us to and fro
On which lost the more by our love.
The smile on your mouth was the deadest thing
Alive enough to have strength to die;
And a grin of bitterness swept thereby
Like an ominous bird a-wing….
Since then, keen lessons that love deceives,
And wrings with wrong, have shaped to me
Your face, and the God curst sun, and a tree,
And a pond edged with grayish leaves.
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