We are wise sometimes, Ether, to exit stage left or right and sit in the wings to witness our mentors. Those to whom we play seconds or, at best, in the splinters of whose limelight we occasionally dabble. Today, I am wise. Today I give you Thomas Hardy. Although known mostly for his novels (I recommend them all and can think of none with which you could go wrong but I am especially fond of "Two on a Tower," "A Pair of Blue Eyes," and "Jude the Obscure."), Hardy considered himself a poet foremost--turning to prose for pecuniary purposes. The poem here, "I am the One," I stumbled on recently in his book Winter Words in Various Moods and Metres (1928) [thanks Denise, for the first edition] and I was charmed to the gills. I think there are both religious and self-comforting themes to be explored; but I will let you make your own way, Ether, because we are wise sometimes to do so. Enjoy.
I am the one whom ringdoves see
Through chinks in boughs
When they do not rouse
In sudden dread,
But stay on cooing, as if they said:
'Oh; it's only he.'
I am the passer when up-eared hares,
Stirred as they eat
The new sprung wheat,
Their munch resume
As if they thought: 'He is one for whom
Wet-eyed mourners glance at me
As in train they pass
Along the grass
To a hallowed spot,
And think: 'No matter; he quizzes not
I hear above: 'We stars must lend
No fierce regard
To his gaze, so hard
Bent on us thus, --
Must scathe him not, He is one with us
Beginning and end.