If but some vengeful god would call to me
From up the sky, and laugh: ” Thou suffering thing,
Know that thy sorrow is my ecstasy,
That thy love’s loss is my hate’s profiting!”

Then would I bear it, clench myself, and die,
Steeled by the sense of ire unmerited;
Half-eased in that a Powerfuller than I
Had willed and meted me the tears I shed.

But not so. How arrives it joy lies slain,
And why unblooms the best hope ever sown?
-Crass Casualty obstructs the sun and rain,
And dicing Time for gladness casts a moan …
These purblind Doomsters had as readily strown
Blisses about my pilgrimage as pain.

“Hap” is one of Thomas Hardy’s earliest poems, written in 1866.
Its theme is one that would return again and again in both his poetry and his fiction: the casualness of the world, where our fortunes and misfortunes are the result of blind chance rather than some greater plan.

Hap means luck, chance (today present in such words as: happen, perhaps, haphazard) and underlines man’s inability to understand the nature of his universe.

In this poem Hardy is searching for an explanation of the fate that brings us a lot of suffering in the pilgrimage of our lives.

The poem has an “if-then-but” structure

The “If” clause in the opening quatrain represents the idea that “some vengeful god” might delight in causing sorrow to mankind in general, and to the poet in particular.

The “Then” clause in the following quatrain states that the poet is prepared to accept the idea that his misfortune is caused by a some omnipotent cosmic force: he would be at least “Half-eased” realizing that he is the victim of one “Powerfuller than I”, who might take pleasure the poet’s pain.

“But” in the final sestet there is a turning point: the poet has to conclude that life is not controlled by some angry and capricious god. His search for a meaning that would give purpose to his agony is unsuccessful and he has to acknowledge that misfortunes, as well as well as pleasures, are simply the result of “hap” or chance

Se solo un qualche dio vendicativo mi chiamasse
dall’alto del cielo, e mi schernisse: “Tu essere che soffri,
sappi che il tuo dolore è la mia gioia
che dalla perdita del tuo amore trae profitto il mio odio!”

Allora io sopporterei, serrerei le mascelle e morirei,
sorretto dalla percezione di un’ira immotivata;
quasi confortato in quanto uno più potente di me
ha voluto e assegnato le lacrime che verso.

Ma non è così. Come mai la gioia giace uccisa,
perché non riesce a fiorire la più dolce delle speranze mai seminata?
-Il crasso Caso può impedire il sole e la pioggia,
e il Tempo lancia i dadi e un gemito per l’allegria –
questi Giudici semiciechi hanno cosparso
sia gioia che dolore sul mio cammino.

“Il caso” è una delle prime poesie di Hardy, scritta nel 1866. Il suo tema tornerà spesso nella sua produzione poetica e narrativa: la casualità del mondo, in cui le nostre fortune e disgrazie sono il risultato di un cieco caso piuttosto che di un piano superiore,
La poesia ha una struttura del tipo “se-allora-ma”
“Se” nella quartina di apertura rappresenta l’idea che “un dio vendicativo” potrebbe dilettarsi nel causarci dolore all’umanità.
“Allora” potremmo accettare l’idea del dolore causatoci da una qualche forza cosmica onnipotente, quasi “sollevati” dall’idea di essere vittime di chi “ più potente “ di noi potrebbe trarre piacere dal nostro soffrire
“Ma” il poeta deve concludere che la vita non è controllata da un qualche dio capriccioso o nefasto: i dolori e le gioie sono semplicemente il risultato del “caso”

Image (commons.wikimedia.org): William Blake -The Ancient of Days (1794) – British Museum

33 thoughts on “Hap

      1. Here is what I found on Online Etymology Dictionary:
        “hap (n.)
        c. 1200, “chance, a person’s luck, fortune, fate;” also “unforeseen occurrence,” from Old Norse happ “chance, good luck,” from Proto-Germanic *hap- (source of Old English gehæp “convenient, fit”), from PIE *kob- “to suit, fit, succeed” (source also of Sanskrit kob “good omen; congratulations, good wishes,” Old Irish cob “victory,” Norwegian heppa “lucky, favorable, propitious,” Old Church Slavonic kobu “fate, foreboding, omen”). Meaning “good fortune” in English is from early 13c. Old Norse seems to have had the word only in positive senses.” 🤗🤗🤗

        Liked by 3 people

  1. Thank you dear this was wonderful I started the day out good I opened my tablet and I saw this , of course everything brings back memories some good some bad . it seems like sometimes our pain brings another person’s onset of pleasure I’ve noticed that with one particular person that I mention a lot here and through my two total hip replacement surgeries being in a wheelchair using a walker using canes being bedridden in between being in excruciating pain and screaming and hollering and crying , I have a cable in one leg and that person would come here and take enjoyment the smile the look on the face was unbelievable it’s scary very scary it brought back thoughts of the Marquis De Sade and some of his writings .his
    works ,his beliefs and I’ve come to learn how evil that this person actually was … inside a very black soul… I took that pain that I learned from watching this person’s Joy I took that pain in my heart and I opened up other doorways with it and I’ve brought that to other person’s attention so that they would learn to stay away from people who are Evil. He also would absorb my feelings and make them His own , bring me flowers and watch my reaction bring me basically garbage food that he made for me I mean total garbage something that you would throw out and hope to God a bird or an animll would not find it that’s how bad it would be and then watch my pleasure thinking that I would eat it ..Alot of learning you can take from some of the worst things that are presented to you in life and turn them into positive and teach others what to stay away from I’m learning that’s probably my job now in life at this old age of 29 . again thank you for the lovely story and the memories of learning❤👍

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Ciao, davvero notevole questo poema è molto utili e preziose le tue note, anch’io io sono sensibile alla tematica che tratta, e mi ritrovo in perfetta sintonia con ciò che racchiude la parte finale. Grazie per averla condivisa.

    Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s