No poet of the nineteenth century, or possibly of any century, was more obsessed with time than Thomas Hardy. This book examines Hardy's poetics in light of the temporal context out of which he wrote more than 900 poems, the sheer heft and diversity of which have posed a challenge to Hardy criticism ever since. To a large extent, Hardy's struggle with the forms of time is a record of the nineteenth-century engagement with the relationship of consciousness to the new science and the loss of traditional beliefs. As such, his poetry leaps into the battles on our own field between technology and humanism. The historical relativity that emerges in Hardy's poetry is thus the relativism of two eras, his and ours.