Tuesday, January 27, 2009
The Darkling Thrush, by Thomas Hardy
I have been reading some poetry this week and happened upon this jewel that I had forgotten about. It rustles something primitive in me. To read it today, of all days, so cold and gray outside gave it extra punch. Today I looked at the distant barren trees and wanted to describe them, no words came to mind, but when I read this, "The tangled bine-stems scored the sky like strings of broken lyres." I knew he had seen the same thing..........
The Darkling Thrush
I leant upon a coppice gate
Where Frost was spectre-gray,
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 the earth
Seemed fervourless as I.
At once a voice arose among
The bleak twigs overhead
In a full-hearted evensong
Of joy illimited;
And 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.
Thomas Hardy (1901)