Poetry Sunday: The Darkling Thrush by Thomas Hardy

Thomas Hardy is probably most well-known for his novels, but he wrote poetry also and it is still fresh after a hundred years. This one seems especially appropriate for late winter. I particularly like the image of the aged thrush, with his song, flinging his soul upon the growing gloom. He refuses to let the gloom defeat him. 

The Darkling Thrush

by 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.


  1. Thanks for this, Dorothy. The poetry of Thomas Hardy is under-appreciated and it's good to see it featured here. Sorry to be tardy with my comments this weekend but we are away in Ottawa visiting my daughter and her family.

  2. I love Hardy's poetry; his command of words always amazes me.

    1. I've never read a bad poem by him. His talent for expression was indeed amazing.

  3. We are warm in our house waiting for a snowstorm to begin, and Thomas Hardy has captured the mood outside 100%.

  4. That's exactly how I feel during the dark days of winter. It's usually a Carolina wren that breaks the gloom in the morning for me.

    1. Ah, yes, the always cheerful Carolina Wren! Wonderful little birds.


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