james landis
tess of the d'urbervilles
poetic summary

c. 1994
 
tess, a crumby girl from marlott,
lots of money she hasn't got.
her father is a complete bum,
and stays at rolliver's, drinking rum.

one day he learns of his ancestry,
and thinking poor he shouldn't be,
he summons up the ale house coach,
and rides to town inviting reproach.

tessy dear, though quite ashamed,
doesn't disown the family name.
she instead goes off to the dance,
and spies a man (a future romance).

she doesn't meet him (for a while)
he leaves to close the gap of a mile
to meet up with his brothers two,
who women they hadn't time to woo.

soon after this fateful day,
tess kills the horse in a nasty way.
on the way to town to sell beehives,
tess destroys her family's lives.

her mom, a superstitious dame,
inquires as to the family name.
using a fortune teller's book,
into the future she tries to look.

it says she's bound to marry well,
making her mom's poor heart swell.
she sends tess off to find this man,
quite happy with her master plan.

only tess will see the mistake
in trying to find her own namesake-
alec stoke, the d'urberville,
would with misery her life fill.

he gives her family wondrous gifts,
but he gives tess nothing like bliss.
besides the many passes he makes,
unoffered kisses he often takes.

as climax to this awful state,
tess endures an awful fate.
returning from a farmhand dance,
she's made unchaste, minus romance.

it takes tess many months to heal,
her aviary title she must repeal.
relying on nature, a powerful force,
she makes herself feel less coarse.

after a while, she returns to work.
in the fields, up she begins to perk.
she begins to forget her awful past,
until the baby arrives at last.

said child, a painful souvenir,
doesn't even live a year.
christened sorrow, then baptized,
finally, the poor thing dies.

tessy then leaves home again,
to a dairy she goes then.
richard crick, who owns the farm,
takes the poor girl under his arm.

after a short time milking cows,
an old presence she soon avows.
angel clare, who danced in marlott,
is there with her, in the same spot.

three more girls, maids like tess,
long for angel, as they confess.
clearly tess is to be his choice,
but she denies with a stubborn voice.

finally, she gives up her fight,
on one dark and stormy night.
she permits to marry him,
but struggles with her previous sin.

to tell or not, she can't decide,
her mom says just to be his bride.
she puts a note under his door,
but also under the carpeted floor.

when her big day comes along,
she still has not sung her song.
angel doesn't know the crime,
and tess is worried all the time.

their honeymoon, to family estates,
is when to angel she finally relates.
while wearing jewels as old as time,
she discovers his similar crime.

where will the tale lead her to,
after all she has been through?
judging on previous romantic books,
she will die, despite her looks.