Can one ever recapture the emotion triggered by one's first experience of a poem, a painting, a piece of music, a song? I was pondering this recently when I came across Thomas Hardy's poem "The Voice". I first read this when I was about sixteen and it knocked me over. Reading it again...it still knocks me over. It is a poem to his first wife and, as well as being a powerful love poem, it has a wonderful (rugged, Hardyesque) music that made the first stanza pass straight into my memory without my even trying to memorise it. It is one of those "bus-stop poems" that I keep for use when I have no books with me and memory has to take the place of a shelf of books.
Woman much missed, how you call to me, call to me,
Saying that now you are not as you were
When you had changed from the one who was all to me,
But as at first, when our day was fair.
Can it be you that I hear? Let me view you, then,
Standing as when I drew near to the town
Where you would wait for me: yes, as I knew you then,
Even to the original air-blue gown!
Or is it only the breeze in its listlessness
Travelling across the wet mead to me here,
You being ever dissolved to wan wistlessness,
Heard no more again far or near?
Thus I; faltering forward,
Leaves around me falling,
Wind oozing thin through the thorn from norward,
And the woman calling.