How can one have comfort in an impersonal accidental universe? This was a great problem for Hardy. The world will simply calmly destroy us.
So he asks the question where can I find solace?
It can’t be from our actual experience:
Whence comes Solace?—Not from seeing
What is doing, suffering, being,
Not from noting Life’s conditions,
Nor from heeding Time’s monitions;
But in cleaving to the Dream,
And in gazing at the gleam
Whereby gray things golden seem.
There is just an accident a surprise which permits him to see grey appear to be gold. Even shadows are turning to sun.
Thus do I this heyday, holding
Shadows but as lights unfolding,
As no specious show this moment
With its irised embowment;
But as nothing other than
Part of a benignant plan;
Proof that earth was made for man.
That last line is the key: I am somehow meaningful. The earth is meant for human life.
This is the point where Hardy differs from Lewis. That surprise of joy led Hardy to have a moments accident – a dream. For Lewis the surprise of joy requires an explanation: it can’t be grounded in life experience which is suffering. Where then?
Misery requires no explanation of life is a bare cosmic accident: why should the ends meet? Darwin only requires existence not the good true or beautiful: those have no anchor in a world of chance. Beauty is purposeful, ordered.
Hardy can’t give a better explanation for his morning than “dream.”