Nature is at the heart of ‘The Darkling Thrush’ and most of Hardy’s most famous poems.
Hardy is a renowned rural poet which suggests that he has a keen interest and knowledge of nature. However, this is not to say that nature is at the heart at every one of his most famous poems – it is sometimes merely a backdrop for other themes, such as war, fate and lost love. Hardy explores human nature in ‘Drummer Hodge’, the downward spiral of mankind using ‘Channel Firing’ and romantic grief in ‘The Voice’. In my opinion this statement implies that all of Hardy’s most famous works are connected to nature. However, such a prolific poet cannot be labelled with such an absolute statement.
Although on the surface ‘Darkling Thrush’ appears to focus on the theme of nature, it actually addresses a myriad of themes including mankind being victims of time and Hardy’s apprehension about the uncertainty of the new century. The internal punctuation causes the poem to have an inbuilt awkwardness, ‘an aged thrush, frail, gaunt, and small’, which encapsulates Hardy’s fear of the unknown future and leaving behind the familiarity and heritage of the past in the headlong rush to progress. For a similar purpose Hardy uses an alternate rhyme scheme with a slightly disjointed rhythm; ‘among’ and ‘evensong’, to recreate a sense of uncertainty also found in the work of H.G Wells and Bram Stoker. Hardy uses alliteration in ‘Century’s corpse’ as a symbol of the winter landscape and the end of the century. The landscape is in mourning; ‘the wind his death-lament’, ‘the ancient pulse of germ and birth was shrunken hard and dry’ and ‘his crypt the cloudy canopy’. In the depth of winter, rebirth seems impossible, but Hardy contrasts this with the optimism of the thrush; this symbolises the hope Hardy feels he has lost. Perhaps the ‘aged’ thrush is a representation of himself, although some readers may interpret the use of the bird as nature representing hope in a desolate landscape, others view...
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