This poem was written soon after Florence Hardy fell ill with a cancerous lump in her throat. She was operated upon for it in London. This poem was inspired by the anxious wait for her and his brother who was bringing her home.
The scene at dusk with darkness creeping while all the time autumnal leaves blow about swept along by strong wind forms the setting for the poem. There is an air of brooding disquiet and loss of hope. The humming produced by the telegraph wires is like sorrowful music created by a phantom lyre. The poet waits at his gate. There is a flash of headlights and a car driven fast approaches but speeds away without stopping spewing black smoke into the dank night air.
At dusk, wind-swept autumnal leaves fly about. Soon it will be night. The hum of the telegraph wires sounds like the music produced on a ghostly lyre by a phantom hand. As the poet stands by the gate, a speeding car throws black exhaust into the damp night before flashing away. The poet waits in vain.
The despondent tone of the poem is in keeping with much of Hardy’s poetry. The autumn season, windswept leaves and falling darkness are images often encountered in his poems. Here in this poem the poet is waiting for someone.
As night is about to fall, a storm blows about the falling leaves of autumn. The telegraph wires produce a humming sound as though a ghostly hand in playing on an invisible lyre.
An unknown speeding car with the blazing headlights that light up the trees beside the road flashes past throwing black exhaust into the night air. The poet silently waits by the gate for a visitor who does not arrive.
An air of anxiety pervades the poem. The poet is waiting for someone who tarries. The late evening air and the autumn storm do nothing to allay his fears. There is a feel of despondency that the one often associates with the poet’s works.