The Darkling Thrush

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The Darkling Thrush
-Thomas Hardy (1840-1928)
The Darkling Thrush is included in Poems of the Past and the Present (1901), which contains many poems expressing Hardy's dismay with British imperialism. There he also mourns the passing of agricultural society and sees little cause to celebrate England’s rapid industrialization, which destroy the customs and traditions of rural life. Here in The Darkling Thrush, in the transition of two centuries, he finds nothing hopeful or constructive. Yet there remain remote possibilities which the thrush prophesies. THE WEATHER

First of all the poet presents a desolate winter scene at the close of the day. People living nearby had retired indoors. There was frost which was pale as ghost. The inclement weather of the winter still prevailed and the sun has already set on the western horizon. The stems of the pine trees have already reached the sky. Each and every member of the society was in earnest quest of their domestic entertainments. The poet is leant upon the gate. The sharp features of the landscape appeared to be the corpse or dead body of the nineteenth century. THE HOPE

The century was almost dying. The process of birth and growth seemed to have stopped in the rigorous winter. The sky was cloudy, a storm was blowing. Every living being felt gloom and depression. But suddenly a song issued from the dark and decayed branches of the tree. It was spontaneous and it comes from the inner most core of the heart. It was excessively joyous and delightful. An old thrush that was lean, frail and weak was singing to his heart’s content in the midst of enveloping darkness. His plume was perturbed by the gust of wind. The poet finds the ray of hope in the bird’s song. He hopes for the coming golden future. HARDY’S PESSIMISM

Hardy’s thrush represents his pessimism in the midst of optimism or reversal. It seems that Hardy is stranded between optimism and...