Two Lips πŸ’‹

Thomas Hardy (born on 2 June 1840-1928) is acclaimed worldwide as one of the best Victorian novelists (Tess of the D’Urbervilles and Far from the Madding Crowd ). He was also a poet, and a much appreciated one, whose poetry is still widely read for its combination of tradition and modernism.

Two Lips

I kissed them in fancy as I came
Away in the morning glow:
I kissed them through the glass of her picture-frame:
She did not know.

I kissed them in love, in troth, in laughter,
When she knew all; long so!
That I should kiss them in a shroud thereafter
She did not know.

The poem, “Two Lips,” recalls Hardy’s relationship with his first wife, Emma.
It starts with the tender reminiscence of the morning when Hardy left the home of Emma Gifford in Cornwall, after their first meeting, before returning to Dorchester.
It continues with Hardy’s remembrance of kissing the picture of Emma and then kissing her in love and laughter during her life, and kissing her lips again when she was in a shroud.

Thomas Hardy met Emma Gifford on 7 March 1870, a date he never failed to recall although he often forgot her birthdays.
At the time, he was working with a Dorchester architect who had been asked to restore the dilapidated church of St Juliot, near Boscastlein a remote spot on the north Cornish coast.
Hardy was commissioned to go there and prepare a report on the condition of the parish.
When he arrived, the door was opened by Emma Gifford, sister-in-law of the rector, who was in bed with gout. So Hardy and Emma sat and started to talk. Each was then in their thirtieth year.
After four days, he returned to Dorset with β€œmagic” in his eyes, as he wrote
Four years after this first visit they married, but, sadly, the marriage turned sour. When she died 1912, Hardy, full of remorse, wrote several poems in her memory.

Due labbra

Le ho baciate con la mente mentre
andavo via nel fulgore del mattino:
le ho baciate attraverso il vetro del suo ritratto:
lei non lo sapeva.

Le ho baciate in amore, fede, gioia
quando lei ben lo sapeva; e da tanto!
Che un giorno in seguito le avrei baciate in un sudario,
lei non lo sapeva.


image: Bust of Nefertiti (detail) Egyptian Museum Berlin


77 thoughts on “Two Lips πŸ’‹

  1. In aThank you, Luisa, for introducing this beautiful poem by Hardy. In two stanzas he is with depth of romance covered many years of deep closeness.
    It is sad that it is sad that the marriage turned sour but the deep sweetness preceding and after will soften this..


    Liked by 3 people

  2. Thomas Hardy has to be one of my all time favourite authors. He had that unique ability, whether he was writing a novel or writing poetry, to be able to paint a picture with words.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Thank you for sharing such wonderful insights regarding Thomas Hardy. We studied him and his life during English in my senior school years. I am not a fan of his novels, although he was very adept at describing key settings and social mores regarding when his stories are set. However, I like his poems very much. His good friend was Wilfred Owen and they perhaps, in their poems, define the sadness and dismay felt regarding the First World War and other conflicts.

    Liked by 1 person

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