A Happy New Year from the darkling thrush

After that little burst of modernity, let’s resume normal service with a belated poem for the New Year.  It’s the obvious one, I’m afraid – The Darkling Thrush by Thomas Hardy.

It’s possible that Hardy was in low spirits at the time because he had rather overdone things (viz. the sauce)over the Christmas break and was now facing the displeasing prospect of returning to work on a bleak Monday morning, but, I fear, that is probably what the trick cyclists refer to as projection. 

Let us hope that the thrush’s optimism proves well-founded for one and all for the coming year (more so, perhaps, than it was for the Twentieth Century).

The Darkling Thrush

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.

2 thoughts on “A Happy New Year from the darkling thrush

  1. Blimey, that was close! I was going to put this one on as my Sunday Poem and at the last minute decided to opt for something more cheerful (no offence).

    Can I just add that I am in awe of you Backwatersman. How on earth have you managed to keep up the steady flow of posts right over Christmas? I have barely managed to change my socks let alone write new and interesting articles every day. I salute you and look forward to many more. Happy New Year.

  2. I’m sure your cheerful choice is a great improvement on mine. I think I’d just been struck by the dreadful realisation that my holiday was almost over and that I’d have to go back to work on Monday (which I just have and – oh! – what a nasty shock it was).

    Delighted you found my Christmas postings interesting – I think I was trying to make the most of a week when I was actually in the house and within reach of a computer. I fear the flow will abate a little in the coming weeks, though not – I hope – dry up altogether.

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