Thomas Hardy: The Darkling Thrush

House in Winter. by Gustave Loiseau (French, 1865–1935). Date: 1911. Medium: Oil on canvas. Dimensions: 21 1/4 x 25 5/8 in., Image Source: wikimedia

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.


This poem is in the public domain.

Read More

A Short Analysis of Thomas Hardy’s ‘The Darkling Thrush’, by Dr Oliver Tearle

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8 Comments Add yours

  1. shoreacres says:

    This is a new poem for me, although the echoes of Emily Dickinson are there: like the faint little bird’s song!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, shoreacres. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Tanya says:

    The bleak imagery and mood of melancholia and desolation aptly describes winters. We are experiencing brutal winters here in New England… I feel I’ll develop winter induced psychosis 🤪…..

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This poem The Darkling Thrush by Thomas Hardy was my dad’s favourite poem.

    It was read aloud at my dad’s funeral.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for sharing such a special memory, Dracul. ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

  4. thank you very much for sharing this poem with the painting…. Love it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for visiting, Northern Elm. 🙂


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