The Darkling Thrush

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The Darkling Thrush - Thomas Hardy [1840-1928]
Relevant Background
The poet Thomas Hardy was born near Dorchester in England.
He is also famous for writing novels.
Hardy gained a love of music from his father. Music is a prominent feature of ‘The Darkling Thrush’.
Hardy gained his interest in literature from his mother.
At the age of 22 Hardy moved to London and started to write poems. These early poems praised country life. Yet Hardy didn’t publish his poems until he was 58. He was 60 when he wrote this poem.
Hardy wrote over 900 poems in his lifetime.
Hardy’s poems are straight to the point and sometimes gloomy in outlook. In this poem he finds a source of hope when a thrush suddenly starts to sing.
Hardy’s most common theme is
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In the last stanza, Hardy claims the surrounding dark land provides little reason for this outburst of joyful singing.
It reminds him of a carol. The song begins to sweeten his gloomy mood.
Hardy suddenly realises the song of the thrush in the falling darkness represents hope.
The poet is in a pleasantly sad mood as he leans alone on the gate watching the century fade into darkness. But he clings on to the sad mood. He is addicted to it. The hopeful song of the bird adds a new mood. Hardy becomes aware for the first time that evening of a new hope of things to come.
He realises that there is a reason to hope, without knowing what that reason is. It is clear that the thrush alone senses this hope and expresses it.
This is probably nature’s way of reminding him that spring always follows winter. Or it may be a spiritual message from nature. It is certainly uplifting.
Themes
Time
Hardy sets the poem at sunset on the last day of the nineteenth century. He compares the sun to a weakening eye and this shows Hardy’s regret at the fact that the day, year and century are ending at once. Hardy feels like it may be the end of the world. He shows his sorrow at the ending of the century by comparing the outline or silhouette of the land to a corpse, with the sky as the roof of a tomb. The darkness and the lifeless appearance of nature depress Hardy. He seems to feel that everything comes to an end: end of day, end of year, end of century and end of life. Time
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