As the son of a stonemason & servant girl
Hardy knew the friction & frisson of the issue
straight-off, came to feel it in his crutch.
His mother
- Jemima Hand - took a domestic
looking downwards at his father.
In ludic
mock-attraction Hardy fell in love at 30
with Emma Gifford, daughter of an alcoholic
father with aspirations for a genteel life -
she remembered with fondness afternoons
in front of a Shaespeare folio, enough to fall
for the bookish. So although young Tom was
much better read she was made to feel
his accent grate against her better sense.
Wedlocked she would take her tea alone,
upstairs, for thirty years. Spolit, unruly, pretty
- hair in gold-plated braided rings - Tom should
have took a Tess, a Bathsheba, a Jenny Clownvag,
but needed to feel the hypocrisy acute behind
his own doors. Tom up in London, Tom to
the Queen's for tea. When she died he was
distraught. When she died he married his
younger secretary, Florence Dugdale. Patient,
understanding, he took her to the places

he had gone to with Emma, at the start,
before their disquieting lustre turned to dialectics.
After he died his heart was ripped from his frame
and returned to the working earth besides Emma,
his ashes & name taken to the Houses. The young
stonemason a gift in pieces for the Nation.


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