Welcome to this week’s edition of Poetic Beats with Howard Bond and Davy D, recorded on the 11th of December 2017 on Red Kite Radio.
In this edition we read and examine what is considered one of the greatest Winter poems, The Darkling Thrush, by Thomas Hardy. Hardy was a prolific poet, writing over 1000 poems, but did not publish his first collection until nearly sixty years of age. This after his last novel, Jude The Obscure, received bad reviews, and he decided to concentrate solely on poetry.
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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.