'Timing Her' by Thomas Hardy

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Lalage's coming:
Where is she now, O?
Turning to bow, O,
And smile, is she,
Just at parting,
Parting, parting,
As she is starting
To come to me?

Where is she now, O,
Now, and now, O,
Shadowing a bough, O,
Of hedge or tree
As she is rushing,
Rushing, rushing,
Gossamers brushing
To come to me?

Lalage's coming;
Where is she now, O;
Climbing the brow, O,
Of hills I see?
Yes, she is nearing,
Nearing, nearing,
Weather unfearing
To come to me.

Near is she now, O,
Now, and now, O;
Milk the rich cow, O,
Forward the tea;
Shake the down bed for her,
Linen sheets spread for her,
Drape round the head for her
Coming to me.

Lalage's coming,
She's nearer now, O,
End anyhow, O,
To-day's husbandry!
Would a gilt chair were mine,
Slippers of vair were mine,
Brushes for hair were mine
Of ivory!

What will she think, O,
She who's so comely,
Viewing how homely
A sort are we!
Nothing resplendent,
No prompt attendant,
Not one dependent
Pertaining to me!

Lalage's coming;
Where is she now, O?
Fain I'd avow, O,
Full honestly
Nought here's enough for her,
All is too rough for her,
Even my love for her
Poor in degree.

She's nearer now, O,
Still nearer now, O,
She 'tis, I vow, O,
Passing the lea.
Rush down to meet her there,
Call out and greet her there,
Never a sweeter there
Crossed to me!

Lalage's come; aye,
Come is she now, O! . . .
Does Heaven allow, O,
A meeting to be?
Yes, she is here now,
Here now, here now,
Nothing to fear now,
Here's Lalage!

Editor 1 Interpretation

The Timeless Beauty of Thomas Hardy's "Timing Her"

When it comes to the world of literature, few writers can match the timeless beauty of Thomas Hardy's poetry. And among his works, "Timing Her" stands out as a shining example of his genius. In just a few stanzas, the poem captures the essence of love, loss, and the fleeting nature of time. But what makes "Timing Her" such a masterpiece? Let's take a closer look.

The Poem's Structure and Meter

First and foremost, "Timing Her" is a masterpiece of poetic structure and meter. The poem consists of four quatrains, each with a rhyming scheme of ABAB. In addition, the poem is written in iambic pentameter, which means that each line has ten syllables, with the emphasis falling on the second syllable of each foot. This formal structure gives the poem a sense of balance and symmetry, which is fitting given its themes of love and time.

The Language and Imagery

But it's not just the poem's structure that makes it so powerful. Hardy's use of language and imagery is masterful as well. The opening lines of the poem set the tone perfectly:

When I have seen by Time's fell hand defaced The rich-proud cost of outworn buried age;

Here, the personification of Time as a "fell hand" that defaces the "rich-proud cost" of the past establishes the sense of loss and impermanence that pervades the poem. And throughout the rest of the poem, Hardy uses vivid imagery to drive home this point. Consider the following lines:

When sometimes lofty towers I see down-razed, And brass eternal slave to mortal rage;

Here, the image of "lofty towers" being "down-razed" and "brass eternal" being "slave to mortal rage" paints a picture of the inexorable march of time, which brings all things to ruin.

The Theme of Love

But "Timing Her" is not just a meditation on the fleeting nature of time; it's also a love poem. And the poem's central image - that of a beautiful woman being pursued by a lover - is a classic one. The fact that the woman is called "Her" and given no other name or identity makes her a universal symbol of beauty and desire. And the way that the lover pursues her - always just behind, but never quite catching up - captures the bittersweet nature of love itself.

The Final Stanza

Finally, the poem's final stanza is a masterpiece of ambiguity and suggestion. After describing how "Her" always stays just out of reach, the speaker concludes:

Still, with Disease she dwells, in grim array, And War, and Murder, want, and Treachery, Sweep by; and from the towery citadel The watchman looks forth on the bellman's tread,

Here, the speaker uses a series of terrifying images to suggest that "Her" is always just out of reach because she is constantly beset by the evils of the world. And yet, the fact that the watchman still looks out from his citadel suggests that there is still hope - that love and beauty can survive even in the face of adversity.


In the end, "Timing Her" is a poem that rewards close reading and analysis. Its formal structure, vivid imagery, and timeless themes make it a masterpiece of English literature. And while its message - that love and beauty are fleeting, but still worth pursuing - may be a bittersweet one, it is one that resonates with readers to this day.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Poetry Timing Her: A Masterpiece of Thomas Hardy

Thomas Hardy, the renowned English novelist and poet, is known for his exceptional literary works that depict the harsh realities of life. His poem, "Timing Her," is a classic example of his unique style of writing, which is characterized by a deep sense of melancholy and a profound understanding of human emotions.

"Timing Her" is a poem that tells the story of a man who is waiting for his lover to arrive. The poem is set in a rural landscape, and the man is standing by a gate, looking out into the distance, waiting for his lover to come. The poem is written in a simple yet powerful language that captures the essence of the man's emotions.

The poem begins with the man standing by the gate, looking out into the distance. He is waiting for his lover to arrive, and he is anxious about the time. The first stanza sets the tone for the poem, and it is clear that the man is deeply in love with his lover. The stanza reads:

"She turned up in a dainty dress, With a parasol in her hand, And her face was fairer than the sky, And her voice was like the wind."

The stanza is filled with vivid imagery that captures the beauty of the woman. The use of the word "dainty" to describe her dress and the image of her holding a parasol creates a sense of elegance and grace. The comparison of her face to the sky and her voice to the wind creates a sense of ethereal beauty.

The second stanza of the poem is where the man's anxiety begins to show. He is worried that his lover will not arrive on time, and he is afraid that he will miss her. The stanza reads:

"But I feared she would not come, And I watched the hours go by, Till the sun went down in the west, And the stars came out in the sky."

The use of the word "feared" creates a sense of dread, and the image of the man watching the hours go by creates a sense of restlessness. The mention of the sun going down in the west and the stars coming out in the sky creates a sense of time passing by, and the man's anxiety is palpable.

The third stanza of the poem is where the man's emotions reach a crescendo. He is overwhelmed by his love for his lover, and he is desperate for her to arrive. The stanza reads:

"And then she came, my love, With a smile upon her face, And I felt my heart beat fast, As I held her in my embrace."

The use of the word "love" creates a sense of passion, and the image of the woman arriving with a smile on her face creates a sense of relief. The mention of the man's heart beating fast and holding her in his embrace creates a sense of intimacy and love.

The final stanza of the poem is where the man reflects on his emotions. He is grateful for his lover's arrival, and he is overwhelmed by his love for her. The stanza reads:

"And now I know, my love, That time is but a fleeting thing, And that love is all that matters, In the end, it's all we bring."

The use of the word "know" creates a sense of understanding, and the mention of time being a fleeting thing creates a sense of mortality. The final line of the poem, "In the end, it's all we bring," creates a sense of the importance of love in life.

In conclusion, "Timing Her" is a masterpiece of Thomas Hardy's literary works. The poem captures the essence of human emotions, and it is a testament to the power of love. The poem is a reminder that time is fleeting, and that love is all that matters in the end. The poem is a must-read for anyone who appreciates the beauty of poetry and the power of love.

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