In Thomas Hardy's "He Never Expected Much," an 86-year-old speaker takes a sober look back at life. He feels that the world has lived up to the "promise" it seemed to offer in his youth, but only because it promised so little. Having "Never Expected Much," he's not disappointed; he always saw life as essentially random, so he's been able to cope with its "strain and ache." However, his ironic phrasing hints that his stoic realism may have limited his pleasure as well as his pain. The poem was published in Hardy's final, posthumous collection, Winter Words in Various Moods and Metres (1928).