Note: Bear with me, dear reader. This post is about everything and nothing, darting about like a squirrel unable to make up its mind. If you know the book If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, you’ll get my train of thought. There it is. I’m owning it!
When my husband and I take a trip, I can’t resist the opportunity to do a bit of research. “A bit” is probably an understatement! I dive head-first into reading and learning everything I can about our chosen destination — local history, customs, and, of course, any literary connections. While it was Tracy Chevalier’s Remarkable Creatures that inspired our upcoming trip to England’s Jurassic Coast, I couldn’t ignore the literary luminary from Dorset: Thomas Hardy.
(photo credit: Encyclopedia Britannica)
I’ve adored Hardy novels for years. Who can resist Tess of the d’Urbervilles, Far From the Madding Crowd, or Jude the Obscure? It wasn’t until I began my sleuthing that I realized how much poetry Hardy had written. Hundreds of poems, in fact. How had I missed this? Hardy was a true Victorian, and his poetry is, well, brooding. You can read a bit about his life here. One poem, however, captured my imagination — The Roman Road.
Photo © Christie Wyman, 2012
What I love about poetry is its openness to personal connection and interpretation. My connection to roman roads goes back to 2012, when I won a teacher fellowship to work on an archaeological dig at the Roman supply fort, Arbeia, near Hadrian’s Wall. When I wasn’t working on the dig site, I was off hiking along the wall, exploring it’s milecastles and forts, as well as nearby roman roads. Upon reading The Roman Road, I was instantly transported back to the summer when I was given the gift of a month to truly wonder and wander. As a child, Hardy’s imagination must have run wild as well, growing up around so much history.
The Roman Road
The Roman Road runs straight and bare
As the pale parting-line in hair
Across the heath. And thoughtful men
Contrast its days of Now and Then,
And delve, and measure, and compare;
Visioning on the vacant air
Helmed legionaries, who proudly rear
The Eagle, as they pace again
The Roman Road.
But no tall brass-helmed legionnaire
Haunts it for me. Uprises there
A mother’s form upon my ken,
Guiding my infant steps, as when
We walked that ancient thoroughfare,
The Roman Road.
So there you have it. A little Thomas Hardy on this Poetry Friday.
Diane at Random Noodling is graciously hosting this week’s Poetry Friday. Why not join us there and spread some poetry love!