Thomas Hardy (1840-1928)
The Darkling Thrush
1I leant upon a coppice gate
2 When Frost was spectre-gray,
3And Winter’s dregs made desolate
4 The weakening eye of day.
5The tangled bine-stems scored the sky
6 Like strings of broken lyres,
7And all mankind that haunted nigh
8 Had sought their household fires.
9The land’s sharp features seemed to be
10 The Century’s corpse outleant,
11His crypt the cloudy canopy,
12 The wind his death-lament.
13The ancient pulse of germ and birth
14 Was shrunken hard and dry,
15And every spirit upon earth
16 Seemed fervourless as I.
17At once a voice arose among
18 The bleak twigs overhead
19In a full-hearted evensong
20 Of joy illimited;
21An aged thrush, frail, gaunt, and small,
22 In blast-beruffled plume,
23Had chosen thus to fling his soul
24 Upon the growing gloom.
25So little cause for carolings
26 Of such ecstatic sound
27Was written on terrestrial things
28 Afar or nigh around,
29That I could think there trembled through
30 His happy good-night air
31Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew
32 And I was unaware.
1] coppice: small wood or copse.
5] bine-stems: shoots from a climbing plant.
6] of: “from” omitted 1903.
17] arose: “outburst” in 1903.
Poem of the Month: January by Meagan Timney, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.