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The Darkling Thrush
Thomas Hardy

I leant upon a coppice gate
      When Frost was spectre-grey,
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.


This poem is in the public domain.




Thomas Hardy (1840 - 1928) was an English writer who always considered himself a poet, although during his lifetime, his notoriety came from his novels. Even today, his novels (Tess of the d’Urbervilles, Far from the Madding Crowd, and Jude the Obscure, for example) are far better known than his poems. Thomas trained and worked as an architect before turning to writing; his attention to detail and his love of the natural world are obvious in his works’ lush descriptions of England’s country settings. Thomas left behind a huge and fascinating body of work, including poetry collections, novels, short stories, and plays.




Post New Comment:
Yes, on the dreariest of days, we will find something beautiful if we wish to. What a beautiful choice for the day! Janice
Posted 01/03/2017 01:10 PM
Gilbert Allen:
When has pessimism ever seemed so consoling? At least one of those "broken lyres" gets restrung by the end of the poem!
Posted 01/03/2017 08:22 AM
Best read aloud--comes to life on the sounds.
Posted 01/03/2017 07:55 AM
Larry Schug:
Excellent poem, Mr. Hardy. Let us all follow your advice and "fling his soul upon the growing gloom".
Posted 01/03/2017 07:22 AM
Quite a poem - and I loved your juicy carrots!
Posted 01/03/2017 02:16 AM
Belinda Veldman:
Love it.
Posted 01/03/2017 02:05 AM

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