A Church Romance

Thomas Hardy

(Mellstock circa 1835)

She turned in the high pew, until her sight
Swept the west gallery, and caught its row
Of music-men with viol, book, and bow
Against the sinking sad tower-window light.

She turned again; and in her pride's despite
One strenuous viol's inspirer seemed to throw
A message from his string to her below,
Which said: "I claim thee as my own forthright!"

Thus their hearts' bond began, in due time signed.
And long years thence, when Age had scared Romance,
At some old attitude of his or glance
That gallery-scene would break upon her mind,
With him as minstrel, ardent, young, and trim,
Bowing "New Sabbath" or "Mount Ephraim."

Thomas Hardy blended real and imaginary places to form his "Wessex" - half of the imagination and half of reality. In this "Shadow-Wessex", Mellstock was his home village of Stinsford. Thomas Hardy's heart is buried in Stinsford (his ashes are in Westiminster Abbey).