Even though Hardy was a Victorian, and even though a lot of his fellow writers wrote long books with really long and complicated sentences, "The Ruined Maid" is kind of refreshing. It's a dialogue, so that makes things a little easier (no crazy, long poetic sentences or anything like that). The only real hang up is the vocabulary, which might make you go "Huh?" at least half a dozen times. Luckily, even if you didn't know that a "megrim" is a migraine, or that a "barton" is a farm, the poem gives just enough clues that you could make an educated guess. And even if you guessed wrong, you'd still get the gist of the poem. Once you get past the vocabulary, it's smooth sailing, Shmoopers.