The Contretemps Poem Rhyme Scheme and Analysis


A forward rush by the lamp in the gloomA
And we clasped and almost kissedB
But she was not the woman whomA
I had promised to meet in the thawing brumeA
On that harbour bridge nor was I he of her trystB
So loosening from me swift she saidC
O why why feign to beD
The one I had meant to whom I have spedC
To fly with being so sorrily wedC
'Twas thus and thus that she upbraided meD
My assignation had struck uponE
Some others' like it I foundF
And her lover rose on the night anonE
And then her husband entered onE
The lamplit snowflaked sloppiness aroundF
Take her and welcome man he criedG
I wash my hands of herH
I'll find me twice as good a brideG
All this to me whom he had eyedG
Plainly as his wife's planned delivererH
And next the lover Little I knewE
Madam you had a thirdI
Kissing here in my very viewE
Husband and lover then withdrewE
I let them and I told them not they erredJ
Why not Well there faced she and IK
Two strangers who'd kissed or nearL
Chancewise To see stand weeping byK
A woman once embraced will tryK
The tension of a man the most austereL
So it began and I was youngM
She pretty by the lampN
As flakes came waltzing down amongM
The waves of her clinging hair that hungM
Heavily on her temples dark and dampN
And there alone still stood we twoE
She once cast off for meD
Or so it seemed while night ondrewL
Forcing a parley what should doE
We twain hearts caught in one catastropheD
In stranded souls a common straitO
Wakes latencies unknownE
Whose impulse may precipitateO
A life long leap The hour was lateO
And there was the Jersey boat with its funnel agroanE
Is wary walking worth much potherL
It grunted as still it stayedP
One pairing is as good as anotherL
Where is all venture Take each otherL
And scrap the oaths that you have aforetime madeP
Of the four involved there walks but oneE
On earth at this late dayQ
And what of the chapter so begunE
In that odd complex what was doneE
Well happiness comes in full to noneE
Let peace lie on lulled lips I will not sayQ

Thomas Hardy


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