Af­ter the Fair

This England - - News - THOMAS HARDY (1840-1928)

The singers are gone from the Corn­mar­ket-place With their broad­sheets of rhymes, The street rings no longer in tre­ble and bass With their skits on the times, And the Cross, lately thronged, is a dim naked space That but echoes the stam­mer­ing chimes.

From Clock-cor­ner steps, as each quar­ter ding-dongs, Away the folk roam By the “Hart” and Grey’s Bridge into by­ways and “drongs”, Or across the ridged loam; The younger ones shrilling the lately heard songs, The old say­ing, “Would we were home”.

The shy-seem­ing maiden so mute in the fair Now rat­tles and talks, And that one who looked the most swag­ger­ing there Grows sad as she walks, And she who seemed eaten by canker­ing care In stat­uesque stur­di­ness stalks.

And mid­night clears High Street of all but the ghosts Of its buried burghees, From the lat­est far back to those old Ro­man hosts Whose re­mains one yet sees, Who loved, laughed, and fought, hailed their friends, drank their toasts At their meeting-times here, just as th­ese!

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