Leafing through my copy of Thomas Hardy: Selected Poems (edited by Walford Davies, Everyman's Library, 1982), I find I still like many of the poems very much, but this one remains my firm favourite:
When the Present has latched its postern behind my tremulous stay,
And the May month flaps its glad green leaves like wings,
Delicate-filmed as new-spun silk, will the neighbours say,
'He was a man who used to notice such things'?
If it be in the dusk when, like an eyelid's soundless blink,
The dewfall-hawk comes crossing the shades to alight
Upon the wind-warped upland thorn, a gazer may think,
'To him this must have been a familiar sight.'
If I pass during some nocturnal blackness, mothy and warm,
When the hedgehog travels furtively over the lawn,
One may say, 'He strove that such innocent creatures should come to no harm,
But he could do little for them; and now he is gone.'
If, when hearing that I have been stilled at last, they stand at the door,
Watching the full-starred heavens that winter sees,
Will this thought rise on those who will meet my face no more,
'He was one who had an eye for such mysteries'?
And will any say when my bell of quittance is heard in the gloom,
And a crossing breeze cuts a pause in its outrollings,
Till they rise again, as they were a new bell's boom,
'He hears it not now, but used to notice such things'?
Firstly there's the whole, luscious sound of it - "glad green leaves", "delicate-filmed as new-spun silk", "dewfall-hawk", "mothy and warm"...
Then there's the poignancy of it - Hardy is talking about a time when he will no longer be there to "notice" and witness the delights and "mysteries" of nature, and, by extension, to describe and celebrate these things in his writings.
And finally there's the unanswered question - "...will the neighbours say, 'He was a man who used to notice such things'?" Hardy hopes the answer is "yes" - and he would probably feel fairly sure of this answer, especially since all of his novels and many of his poems had already been published before this particular poem was written. But can we ever be sure of our own legacy, and whether or how we will live on in the minds and memories of others? Will our thoughts and actions, will our love of nature and "innocent creatures", will what we may like to think of as our keen senses and sensibilities - will they actually be remembered? Many prolific writers even, famous in their day, are now forgotten...
(I quoted briefly from this poem once before in my post Glad Green Leaves.)