Thomas Hardy (1840-1928) remains one of the best loved of the great English poets. Hardy thought of himself as a poet all his life, although his poetic career only flowered after he had retired from novel-writing in his mid-fifties. Over the next thirty years he wrote the poems that have established him as one of the great and most enduringly popular English poets of thetwentieth century. His verse touches all the common themes of human existence: birth, childhood, love, marriage, ageing, death. If Hardy's age brings anything to them, it is an old man's ironic and elegiac sense that in life hopes are likely to be defeated and losses sustained, and that the world was not designed forhuman happiness. This collection is prepared by Samuel Hynes, editor of the Oxford English Texts edition of The Complete Poetical Works of Thomas Hardy, and selected from the Oxford Authors critical edition. The introduction and notes illuminate Hardy's central place in the tradition of English poetry.