A Poem by Thomas Hardy
“That same first fiddler who leads the orchestra to-night
Here fiddled four decades of years ago;
He bears the same babe-like smile of self-centred delight,
Same trinket on watch-chain, same ring on the hand with the bow.
“But his face, if regarded, is woefully wanner, and drier,
And his once dark beard has grown straggling and gray;
Yet a blissful existence he seems to have led with his lyre,
In a trance of his own, where no wearing or tearing had sway.
“Mid these wax figures, who nothing can do, it may seem
That to do but a little thing counts a great deal;
To be watched by kings, councillors, queens, may be flattering to him
With their glass eyes longing they too could wake notes that appeal.”
* * *
Ah, but he played staunchly – that fiddler – whoever he was,
With the innocent heart and the soul-touching string:
May he find the Fair Haven! For did he not smile with good cause?
Yes; gamuts that graced forty years’-flight were not a small thing!