preview

An examination of Thomas Hardys "The Darkling Thrush" Essay

Good Essays
An examination of Thomas Hardy’s “The Darkling Thrush”

The Darkling Thrush" is a poem occasioned by the beginning of a new year and a new century. It is formally precise, comprised of four octaves with each stanza containing two quatrains in hymn measure. The movement of the first two stanzas is from observation of a winter landscape as perceived by an individual speaker to a terrible vision of the death of an era that the landscape seems to disclose. The action is in how the apprehension of this particular moment of seeing changes as the emotional impact of the scene solidifies.
I leant upon a coppice gate
…show more content…
The figure of the sun as a "weakening eye" is a personification, a trope resonating off Romantic associations such as Wordsworth's "eye of heaven" for the sun in "Resolution and Independence". It establishes the poem's time as at the closing of a particular day at the end of a seasonal year. Whether the Romantic allusion to visionary powers and their ebbing is noted or not, it is a suggestive adjective for a time when seeing is becoming more difficult due to a reduction of light. As the poem moves further away from visual observation to emotional coloration, it replaces concrete detail with pathetic fallacy, a rhetorical device by which we, in Santayana's words "dye the world our own color" (Santayana, 159).
The tangled bine-stems scored the sky
Like strings of broken lyres . . .

The next two lines also have a Romantic link to Coleridge's aeolian harp and the music it made at another dusk when it exemplified Unity, "one Life within us and abroad/ Which meets all motion and becomes its soul". A "wild harp" is also the image opening Coleridge's own "Ode to the Departing Year", a poem in which the harp is unable to evoke a lasting hope (Coleridge, 56). Now , at the turn of the nineteenth century in Hardy's poem, the lyric
Get Access