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Friday, September 30, 2011

Number 273: Thomas Hardy "Waiting Both"

Waiting Both

A star looks down at me,

And says, "Here I and you

Stand, each in his degree: 

What do you mean to do, —

Mean to do?"

I say: "For all I know,

Wait, and let Time go by,

Till my change come." – "Just so,"

The star says, "So mean I: —

So mean I."

-- Thomas Hardy

Hap Notes: Hardy can write a pithy short poem and this is certainly one of them. A few short lines places a man (everyman/woman more or less) in the context of the universe and time. Hardy first published this poem in the literary magazine, The London Mercury, in 1924.

When the star says "Here we are" where exactly is Hardy talking about? It's as if the man and the star were hanging around the same universal bus stop or train depot, making small talk (with a very large subject) about their destinations.

A star starts out in the cosmic soup of a nebula. It goes through various changes until, in the end, it collapses and explodes (usually). What we call the sun, as you know, is a star. A star, depending on how heavy it is, will live 10 million to 100 billion years. The sun is around 4 1/2 billion years old and it's expected to live another billion or so. It's a long wait, in human time, for a star.

A person starts out in a kind of cosmic/biological soup as well. He/she goes through various changes until the body collapses or burns out. The average life span of a human worldwide is around 67 years although in America it's more like 78 years old (according to the CIA World Factbook.) No matter what a person does in their life there is always the thought that at some point, life will end. How long their life will go is just a matter of time.

However, neither the man nor the star says a single word about death. They refer to their "change." What does this mean? I suppose, that's up to you to decide.

Here is where we have talked about Hardy before:

and here:

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