"Ah, are you digging on my grave My beloved one?-- planting rue?" --"No: yesterday he went to wed One of the brighest wealth has bred, 'It cannot hurt her now,' he said, 'That I should not be true.'" "Then who is digging on my grave? My nearest, dearest kin?" --"Ah no: they sit and think, 'What use! What good will planting flowers produce? No tendance of her mound can loose Her spirit from Death's gin.'" "But someone digs upon my grave? My enemy?--prodding sly?" --"Nay, when she heard you had passed the Gate That shuts on all flesh soon or late, She thought you no more worth her hate, And cares not where you lie." "Then who is digging on my grave? Say--since I have not guessed!" --"O it is I, my mistress dear, Your little dog, who still lives near, And much I hope my movements here Have not disturbed your rest?" "Ah yes! You dig upon my grave... Why flashed it not on me That one true heart was left behind! What feeling do we ever find To equal anong human kind A dog's fidelity!" "Mistress, I dug upon you grave To bury a bone, in case I should be hungry near this spot When passing on my daily trot. I am sorry, but I quite forgot It was your resting place."
The woman narrating this poem -- having the conversation with her dog -- is obviously dead. I get the idea that she dies young because she doesn't ask about any children and her lover is young enough to remarry. She probably died of disease as was common in Hardy's time. Unfortunately, no one seems to be overly wrought with grief over her passing. The idea is given that this was just an ordinary woman, not exceptionally cruel or kind, and just wants a little respect now that she is gone. Her lover has remarried for wealth, her relatives consider it a waste of time to tend to her grave, and even her dog, supposedly man's best friend, has forgotton her. Not even her enemy has taken the time to gloat over her death. Her ghost or spirit is facing the worst human fear: oblivion. Everyone she has ever cared about has forgotten that she existed, or is ignoring it.
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