The Romantic and the Modern in a Hardy poem

The Darking Thrush

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.

Thomas Hardy

We have previously observed that the great poems identified as belonging to and identified with ‘seasons’ such as New Years or Christmas are memorable because they do much more than celebrate the season.  Some of them do not even do that. They endure because they introduce  …..To continue reading, login or subscribe now.



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