Copying Architecture in an Old Minster


      How smartly the quarters of the hour march by
            That the jack-o-clock never forgets;
      Ding-dong; and before I have traced a cusp's eye,
Or got the true twist of the ogee over,
                  A double ding-dong ricochetts.

      Just so did he clang here before I came,
            And so will he clang when I am gone
      Through the Minster's cavernous hollows--the same
Tale of hours never more to be will he deliver
                  To the speechless midnight and dawn!

      I grow to conceive it a call to ghosts,
            Whose mould lies below and around.
      Yes; the next 'Come, come,' draws them out from their posts,
And they gather, and one shade appears and another,
                  As the eve-damps creep from the ground.

      See--a Courtenay stands by his quatre-foiled tomb,
            And a Duke and his Duchess near;
      And one Sir Edmund in columned gloom,
And a Saxon king by the presbytery chamber;
                  And shapes unknown in the rear.

      Maybe they have met for a parle on some plan
            To better ail-stricken mankind;
      I catch their cheepings, through thinner than
The overhead creak of a passager's pinion
                  When leaving the land behind.

      They waste to fog as I stir and stand,
            And move from the arched recess,
      And pick up the drawing that slipped from my hand,
And feel for the pencil I dropped in the cranny
                  In a moment's forgetfulness.


Thomas Hardy.