HARDY’S DARKLING THRUSH

Hardy’s poem, The Darkling Thrush is one of my all-time favourite poems. People often say that poetry is not for them as they do not understand it. It is, in short to complicated and requires too much thought. This is certainly not the case with the below poem which is simplicity itself.

One can imagine Hardy, leaning on the coppice gate full of the dark thoughts and feelings which winter so often seems to generate in people. Suddenly an old thrush bursts into song and fills the evening air with “ecstatic carolings”. There is a stark contrast between Hardy’s melancholy and the joyful music of the bird. Hardy retains his sombre mood and the Thrush provokes him to ponder on why the bird can sing so beautifully when there is, in his view so little reason to be joyful,

“So little cause for carolings

Of such ecstatic sound

Was written on terrestrial things

Afar or nigh around,

That I could think there trembled through

His happy good-night air

Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew

And I was unaware”.

Walking home of a winter’s evening I sometimes pause to listen to the birds. I am certainly no Hardy! However I can relate to his sense of wonder at the fact that the birds sing despite the foulness of the weather and the sadness which is, for the moment within us. The poem is below. Enjoy (For the song of the Thrush please visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qFIhizUkhh0).

“I leant upon a coppice gate

When Frost was spectre-gray,

And Winter’s dregs made desolate

The weakening eye of day.

The tangled bine-stems scored the sky

Like strings of broken lyres,

And all mankind that haunted nigh

Had sought their household fires.

The land’s sharp features seemed to be 

The Century’s corpse outleant,

His crypt the cloudy canopy,

The wind his death-lament.

The ancient pulse of germ and birth

Was shrunken hard and dry,

And every spirit upon earth

Seemed fervourless as I.

At once a voice arose among

The bleak twigs overhead

In a full-hearted evensong

Of joy illimited;

An aged thrush, frail, gaunt, and small,

In blast-beruffled plume,

Had chosen thus to fling his soul

Upon the growing gloom.

So little cause for carolings

Of such ecstatic sound

Was written on terrestrial things

Afar or nigh around,

That I could think there trembled through

His happy good-night air

Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew

And I was unaware”.

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About kevinmorris101

I live and work in London and blog as a hobby. If you would like to contact me please send an email to animalia at shiftmail.com (the address is rendered in this manner in order to try and defeat spammers)!
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One Response to HARDY’S DARKLING THRUSH

  1. Pingback: MIDNIGHT ON THE GREAT WESTERN BY THOMAS HARDY | favourite poems

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