“The Darkling Thrush” summary

About the poem The Darkling Thrush

  • The Darkling Thrush is a famous and important poem by Thomas Hardy
  • Hardy wrote this poem in the year of December 1900
  • Here, in this poem, the poet/speaker reflected on: (I) the end of the nineteenth (19th) century (II) the state of Western civilization as well
  • It (this poem) is a description of a desolate world that he took as cause for despair as well as hopelessness
  • But, the thrush bird burst onto the scene. He began to sing a beautiful, melodious, as well as hopeful song. The bird’s song was so hopeful that the speaker of the poem The Darkling Thrush wondered/was surprised if the bird knew something that he did not
  • In this way, the desolation of the scene he observed serves as an extended metaphor for the decay of Western civilization. As far as the thrush is concerned; it comes/features as a symbol for its possible rebirth through religious faith

The Darkling Thrush Poem

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.

 The Darkling Thrush Summary of the Poem

The speaker of the poem The Darkling Thrush says that once he was leaning on a gate. It was on that path which led into the jungle. At that time, the frost was gray like a ghost.

Moreover, the last of the winter day also made the “eye of the day”  or the sun look bleak as it descended. Whereas the tangled stems of climbing plants were cutting across the sky in the way/style of/as the strings of a broken musical instrument.

As far as the people are concerned; all of them that lived nearby had gone away to the warmth of their homes.

The speaker in The Darkling Thrush further says that the harsh hills, as well as cliffs, appeared as the corpse of the just-ended century, leaning out.

Whereas the above hanging clouds seemed/looked like the tomb of the century; and, the wind appeared similar to a gloomy/melancholic song played upon its death. Moreover, the age-old urge for reproducing as well as growing had shriveled up.

Furthermore, the speaker says that all the living things on the earth appeared/looked as depressed and dejected as he himself.

Suddenly, he heard a voice rising up from the dreary/dull twigs overhead. The voice was a song of evening prayer with endless joy or happiness.

He was (I) frail & old (II) skinny as well as a small bird. The wind rumpled his feathers. The thrush bird had decided to sing with all his soul/spirit in the increasing darkness.

The speaker of the poem The Darkling Thrush says that he did not see/find any cause for such joyful singing of the bird; at least no cause was evident around him.

That is why the speaker considered that the joyful song of the bird carried some secret as well as holy or sacred hope, something that he (the bird) knew about but he (the speaker) did not know.

What are the themes of Thomas Hardy’s poem The Darkling Thrush?

(I) Nature, as well as the decline of human civilization (II) despair & isolation (III) hope as well as renewal, are the themes of The Darkling Thrush by Thomas Hardy.

What are the figures of speech(es) that Thomas Hardy uses in The Darkling Thrush ?

 (I) Simile (II) Alliteration and Assonance (III) (Extended) Metaphor (IV) Personification are those figures of speech that are used in The Darkling Thrush.

How many stanzas are in the poem The Darkling Thrush ?

The Darkling Thrush by Thomas Hardy is made of or comprises four stanzas of eight lines each.

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