What Is the Poem "Hap" by Thomas Hardy About?

Thomas Hardy's poem "Hap" expresses disappointment at the lack of higher meaning in the tragedies that happen to people. The poet says he would prefer to know that his sufferings came from a more powerful being who "had willed and meted me the tears I shed."

The poem is essentially a sonnet. Its first eight lines, the octave, are a conditional statement saying that if some "vengeful god" had given him his sorrows, he would be willing to bear the pain, knowing that something more powerful than him had caused the pain.

In the sestet, the last six lines, he expresses disappointment that this is not the case. The poet says that pure chance, not a malevolent deity, governs the world. In the last two lines, he says that chance may just as easily have cast joys instead of sorrows into his life, and this fact causes him even more pain.