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
His happy good-night air
Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew
And I was unaware.
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.