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Thomas Hardy

(2 June 1840 – 11 January 1928 / Dorchester / England)

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A Broken Appointment


You did not come,
And marching Time drew on, and wore me numb.
Yet less for loss of your dear presence there
Than that I thus found lacking in your make
That high compassion which can overbear
Reluctance for pure lovingkindness' sake
Grieved I, when, as the hope-hour stroked its sum,
You did not come.

You love not me,
And love alone can lend you loyalty;
-I know and knew it. But, unto the store
Of human deeds divine in all but name,
Was it not worth a little hour or more
To add yet this: Once you, a woman, came
To soothe a time-torn man; even though it be
You love not me.

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003
Edited: Saturday, October 21, 2006

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Read poems about / on: loss, woman, hope, alone, time, love, women

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  • Rookie - 363 Points Juan Olivarez (5/12/2011 5:12:00 PM)

    The poem is an excellent example of a man with a terrible disappointment over the unkept appointment. All his feelings seem to come to the forefront and he starts to question himself. And also Kevin Straw wrote this opinion last year, and he never said it was not a good poem, he just thought Hardy's approach was clumsy. At least it was an honorable and honest opinion. Unlike others who can't seem to come up with their own. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 294 Points Ramesh T A (5/12/2010 3:17:00 AM)

    Egoistic man's nature is well depicted in this poem! Thomas Hardy is expressing strong flaw of man in this poem too as in all his famous novels! (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Kevin Straw (5/12/2009 7:57:00 AM)

    There is something clumsy about Hardy's style:

    'Yet less for loss of your dear presence there
    Than that I thus found lacking in your make
    That high compassion which can overbear
    Reluctance for pure lovingkindness' sake
    Grieved I, when, as the hope-hour stroked its sum,
    You did not come.'

    E.G. 'Grieved I' comes much too late. Also is 'thus' right? He makes it refer to the substance of what he found, when it should refer to the manner of his finding. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Joseph Poewhit (5/12/2009 6:04:00 AM)

    Deep poem; I just see, a disillusioned man with broken pieces of life. Never really connecting in life's trials. Yet, the heart of a woman to place compassion, as a band-aid upon the pieces. Hoping a few will stick together on the band-aids adhesive (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Michael Pruchnicki (5/12/2008 11:28:00 AM)

    Some of the comments posted here puzzle this reader, but that's
    the nature of the beast, I guess. Consider that Hardy wrote in the 19th century
    when certain theories about the nature of life were prominent. One theory
    that Hardy espoused and wrote about in both his poetry and in his novels
    was the tragic nature of human life. The cards are stacked against us from
    birth to death, and the sad fate of his characters bears that point of view out
    to the nth degree. 'A Broken Appointment' has been dismissed by some
    as much ado about nothing- some woman stood him up, so get over it, man!

    She did not make the appointment, though he waited patiently for hours on end.
    The speaker grieved that she demonstrated such a lack of compassion for
    a man in his straits - a time-torn man at the end of his rope! He recognizes
    that she doesn't love him, not even in the kind way one human being cares
    for another mortal being in distress. There are actions that one can take to
    alleviate the suffering of a time-torn man (or woman!) that are divine. Recall
    that Hardy was not a believer in a divine being, but he believed that one has
    a duty to respond to the down-and-out (just a little hour or more!) .

    What vodka and water have to do with Hardy's poem is beyond me, I admit!
    Another modern reader who knows his own mind? I don't know! (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 0 Points Gregory Collins (5/12/2008 10:24:00 AM)

    when vodka tastes like water
    and someone is waiting for me on the other side
    i would have to believe crying is suffering
    that the boundaries of the wilderness what this journey is all about (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Greg Stultz (10/18/2007 11:10:00 AM)

    I love Thomas Hardy poems, enough to memorize this one and also 'Neutral Tones' & 'I look into my glass'. He strikes a deep chord of sympathy in me, it is like I have felt what he is so gifted in expressing; the bitter disappointment in a beloved that 'you love not me'. As I meditate on his poems I see a familiar (because I see it in me) stain of sin, a recurring thread of selfishness, bitterness and vindictiveness running through his powerful prose. Consider, posterity will never know why the appointment was broken, or, in 'Neutral Tones' why the lady grew disenchanted with him, or why no one is paying close attention to his “throbbings of noontide” (“I look into my glass”) but Hardy does not hesitate to repeatedly use his power to create a form of artwork that he knows will damn his subject for the ages. If Hardy was as broody and melancholy in person as his poetry suggests, I can very easily imagine a young fan, initially thrilled at meeting him, becoming more and more disinclined to continue her association with someone who turns out to be an introspective boor, even if the introspective boor is a 'Great Man'. I think Thomas Hardy has the gift of eloquently describing what almost all of us have experienced at one time or another; the painful recognition that someone we have grown to delight in has come into our lives, gotten to know us and has chosen to leave us. We do this to great poets, and our creator, Jesus Christ, to our eternal peril. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Raveendran . (5/15/2007 8:44:00 AM)

    I am a time torn man
    Who longed for your soothing presence.
    But you who don't love me
    Lack high compassion.
    You didn't come.
    And we are human (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Gary Witt (1/26/2007 5:54:00 PM)

    The poem is an unfortunate relic of an era long past when people actually expected more from each other, by way of “lovingkindness.” Standards of behavior were different. Politeness and respect were important, at least in the circles in which Mr. Hardy traveled. When men and women made a promise it meant something. Let’s not forget the title of the poem is “A Broken Appointment.” The woman said she would be there. It is unclear what else she may have told the man, but he was convinced she would come. IMHO, the man is not only disappointed at the lack of compassion demonstrated by the woman, but even more fundamental than that, her lack of honor. The fact that he criticizes her for a lack of compassion is a result of his own desire to extend respect to her. Far more polite, far more respectful, to criticize her for not being an angel, than for the fact that she lacks honor. Yet, through the text, a 19th century reader would know. He or she would know. And the condemnation would be stinging.

    The fact that many of today’s readers have lost touch with the context of this poem deeply saddens me. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Robert Krieckhaus (10/21/2006 4:43:00 PM)

    THANKS for the observation, Tim. (They've got it now.) I find the poem rueful, all right, but a bit silly for a grown man. Maybe I'm missing something, but isn't Willem right? I mean, so he got stood up. She doesn't love him. Did he really expect her to come to soothe him just out of a compassion divine in all but name? Or, in any case, how can he reproach her for not rising to such a height? Or would that be so grand a height? And he says he grieved more for her than himself. Hmfph. And this from the author of Tess and Jude! ! Thomas, this is stupid stuff, is what I say. Well, I hope I'm not missing the poem entirely. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Tim Peltason (3/7/2006 8:44:00 PM)

    The first and last lines of the second stanza should read, 'You love not me, ' rather than 'You love me not.' They're meant to rhyme with what follows-'You love not me/And love alone can lend you loyalty'-and with what precedes-'Even though it be/You love not me.' A wonderful and rueful poem-but missing some of its rough music until this error is corrected. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Willem VanVoorthuysen (5/12/2005 9:23:00 PM)

    Clear message and fairly concisely written, but what else should a 'time-torn' man expect from a woman, other than kind compassion? : What does he have to offer?
    I do like the ironic, introspective approach to stating his problrm.
    Willem (Report) Reply

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