“Hap”, by Thomas Hardy, was written in 1866 (when Hardy was 26 years old) and published in 1898. The poem is a brief and Job-like meditation upon suffering, theodicy, and “dicing Time”—but without the hope that there might actually be a God to bring POETIC JUSTICE—to set things right.
Ironically, Hardy’s poem is an atheist’s attempt at rhyme and reason directed at a world that, by all appearances, has neither:
If but some vengeful god would call to me
From up the sky, and laugh: “Thou suffering thing,
Know that thy sorrow is my ecstasy,
That thy love’s loss is my hate’s profiting!”
Then would I bear it, clench myself, and die,
Steeled by the sense of ire unmerited;
Half-eased in that a Powerfuller than I
Had willed and meted me the tears I shed.
But not so. How arrives it joy lies slain,
And why unblooms the best hope ever sown?
—Crass Casualty obstructs the sun and rain,
And dicing Time for gladness casts a moan. . . .
These purblind Doomsters had as readily strown
Blisses about my pilgrimage as pain.
Hardy, as an atheist, sees that, without God, there is no court of complaint for natural evils—for they are “purblind Doomsters”—that is, the products of contingency (chance). And yet, were God to exist, this does not help either, for then for what purpose could God possibly permit so much evil to be in the world?