I Travel as a Phantom Now
I travel as a phantom now,
For people do not wish to see
In flesh and blood so bare a bough
As Nature makes of me.
And thus I visit bodiless
Strange gloomy households often at odds,
And wonder if Man’s consciousness
Was a mistake of God’s.
And next I meet you, and I pause,
And think that if mistake it were,
As some have said, O then it was
One that I well can bear!
Thomas Hardy (1840 – 1928), wrote this poem in 1915 and later published it in his Moments of Vision and Miscellaneous Verses, his largest poetic collection, which examines the mystery of consciousness in this material world.
In this poem the poet’s mind is a kind of ghost journeying in a bleak world populated by gloomy unsympathetic people. (He had declared that” The material world is so uninteresting, human life is so miserably bounded, circumscribed, cabin’d, cribb’d, confined. I want another domain for the imagination to expatiate it”)
This pilgrimage involves a sort of transportation of his mind and makes him aware that man’s consciousness is one of the great mistakes of the universe
VAGO COME UN FANTASMA ORA
Vago come un fantasma ora,
perché la gente non vuole vedere
in carne e ossa un ramo così spoglio
come la Natura fa di me.
E così incorporeo visito
strane famiglie cupe spesso in disaccordo,
e mi chiedo se la coscienza dell’uomo
sia stato un errore di Dio.
E poi incontro te, e faccio una pausa
e penso che se fu davvero errore,
come alcuni hanno detto, sarebbe
uno di quelli che riesco a sopportare
Image by Gallowglass: Paul Gauguin “Madame La Mort” (Cabinet des dessins, Musée du Louvre, Paris)