Hardy's works take place in Wessex (named after the Anglo-Saxon kingdom which existed in the area). One of his distinctive achievements is to have captured the cultural atmosphere of rural Wessex in the golden epoch that existed just before the coming of the railways and the agricultural and industrial revolutions that were to change the English countryside for ever.
His works are often deeply pessimistic and full of bitter irony, in sharp contrast to the prevalent Victorian optimism.
The Fallow Deer at the Lonely House
One without looks in to-night Through the curtain-chink From the sheet of glistening white; One without looks in to-night As we sit and think By the fender-brink.
We do not discern those eyes Watching in the snow; Lit by lamps of rosy dyes We do not discern those eyes Wondering, aglow, Fourfooted, tiptoe.