Hardy’s “The Darkling Thrush”

I included this poem in my January 1, 2002 entry and I still haven’t found a better poem to start a new year.

Perhaps it’s a testament to the value of art that this poem written at the beginning of the 20th Century seems as valid today as it did the day it was written.


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 outleapt,
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.

December 1900

There is, indeed, something in the human soul that helps us to transcend the tragedy of the world that each of us must confront everyday of our life.

4 thoughts on “Hardy’s “The Darkling Thrush””

  1. Here’s a poem written by the poet Ed Stone who died in 1977. I thought of it after reading your comments on Hardy’s “The Darkling Thrush.”


    “A year from now” you
    just said to me
    something about
    “a year from now”

    I attempting to “view
    from a clear distance”
    you me world sun our
    child throwing rocks
    at us from that
    far burning yellow
    daily hill up there

    I thinking ALL ALL
    sun rocks yellow hill
    “a year from now”

    Because you mentioned
    it so casually I even
    half believe you.


  2. I didn’t really think the poem needed any comments since it’s pretty straightforward, but I’m afraid that this poem doesn’t remind me of Hardy’s poem at all.

  3. What a caustic comment!
    You should praise the Lord that someone looked at your site, ungrate. I have a site and no one ever looks at mine.

  4. This is all fine. For one thing, the statement “a year from now” can be placed in the New Year’s Day spectrum. New Year’s resolutions show in the statement “A view from a clear distance.” Smashed into the second paragraph are the people important to this individual’s life to be considered year round, not just lightly but on a bound schedule that can be a serious plan. The last line is just how I felt this end of year when I said I won’t have a resolution just so I can take everything seriously without making excuses. Both poems only hint at the actual event of New Year’s day, so y’all should call a truce.

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