Thomas Hardy: The Darkling Thr Essay, Research Paper
The Darkling Thrush by Thomas Hardy is a poem written in December of the year 1900. This coincides with the themes of the poem itself, being a sadness and depression because it is the end of not only year, but also a century. However the poem is not all-negative, there is a sense of hope felt because of these new beginnings, a hope due to the curiosity of what the new era will bring.
Stanzas one and two provide a setting of the poem in which the reader is placed in the position of the poet, and is made to feel what the person speaking feels on this eve of the new year. The poet is standing at a gate looking over a desolate scene. In this situation the gate may symbolise a barrier, the barrier possibly being a sense of despair of what the future may hold. The frost covering the scene is described as being ghost-like. This is depicted through the words spectre-grey . The weight of the words winter dregs furthers the effect of these words which in turn leads into the effect of reiterating the desolation that is being described by this individual character. The word dregs forces the reader to pause in the line of verse, adding to this effect. The sun is depicted as the weakening eye of day , which is a personification. This not only symbolises the closing of a day in the form of a usual sunset, but also of a year and century.
The first stanza ends with the individual speaker being conscious of other human beings, to which the scenery that is being witnessed is also familiar. However their effect on this scenery is diminished by the word haunted . I believe the word haunted to be used as a technique the poet uses to associate the humans as being ghost-like beings who depart to the safety of their homes.
And all mankind that haunted nigh
Had sought their household fires.
The scene of the first stanza depicts only the barest traces of life, what began as the description of a winter scene by a lone individual becomes like a night time period of staying awake to look after a sick person, however in this case a sick land.
The second stanza focuses on the end of a century, Of an era. I believe that the land is in a sense personified. The speaker within his mind in the first sentence of the stanza encircles the large amount of scenery that is before him into a terrible image of the century s corpse in its coffin. It is the vision of the end of a life, a permanent discontinuation.
The century s corpse outleant,
His crypt the cloudy canopy,
The wind his death-lament .
The last line of this stanza through the use of the word fervourless depicts once again the poet s own mood which is in harmony with the desolation of the setting.
In the third stanza there is a distinctive change in the mood of the poem because of a new hopeful presence in the poem. Although the thrush is physically in a reality very small, it manages to bring about a large sense of hope. But all hope does not release the uncertainty that the individual feels.
Through out the poem I believe there to be a recurring religious theme. In the first stanza there is the idea of stems scored the sky , possibly sky representing the hope that we as human beings have to reach heaven . Furthermore in the second stanza there is use of the word crypt which is a vault, according to Collin s dictionary as especially one found under a church. At the beginning of the third stanza a voice is described. In the past as well as the present, figures of God in Judeo-Christian teachings have sometimes been described as a voice . Also in association with this religious theme is the use of the phrase joy illimited , joy being a common religious theme in Christian teaching, because Christ represents joy. It may be evident that the thrush that chooses to
Fling his soul upon the growing gloom
can be associated with a God-like figure in a religious sense that brings hope. However if the religious theme is not to be taken the
Aged thrush, frail, gaunt, and small
may represent one voice of a natural world, the bird being a natural feature.. The bird is a symbol of all things on earth that is pure, a joy that is a result of this pureness.
Hardy manages to put together an amazing piece of poetry, not only due to language and tone of the poem, but also the fact that he manages to become a poet, within a poet describing the scene before him. Although he is the writer of the piece, he places an unknown individual in the scene, describing the feelings the dawn of a new century brings. The poem concludes cleverly with a mingling of melancholy as well as hope, a contradiction within itself.