This line is from the Thomas Hardy poem "Heredity" published in 1917 in Moments of Vision. When looked at in the context of the poem, the meaning becomes more clear.
I am the family face;
Flesh perishes, I live on,
Projecting trait and trace
Through time to times anon,
And leaping from place to place
Over oblivion. The years-heired feature that can
In curve and voice and eye
Despise the human span
Of durance--that is I;
The eternal thing in man,
That heeds no call to die. Hardy is speaking directly of the continuity of family appearance, a sort of immortality.