The Darkling Thrush Critical Analysis || By - Thomas Hardy

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Thomas Hardy was born in 1840 in the English Country dorset. He died in 1928 leaving behind a great heritage of his dramas and poems. In the year when he passes heb had created for himself and for the other a grant poetic structure and a great place for himself in the world of literature. A very famous lierary personalities of the time, Verginia Woolf said, "Hardy has given us a great understanding of life, a vision of the world and of man's lot. He has revealed to us a powerful imagination a profund an poetic genius, a gentle and human soul."

        Write from his chilhood, his mother Jemina offered him with opportunities to read book. Hence much before he joined his school, he already had primary training in reading and writing. Altough, an apprentis for architecture, he was seriously into constant writings. He always consider himself a great poet but sadly, his poems were always rejected. It did not at all dissipate his spirit for writing. Rather, he found himself wanting for more.

         Hardy's times were hard times keeping in mindbthe various social and cultural circumstances of Victorian Era. The age wasen't very supportive of Hardy's ideas of humanity. As a social critick Hardy was considered a keen dissener. Not only was he very critical of Victorian moral standards but he was also a born poet who never escaped from portraying the naked truth of the time.

        Before his poem could be published, he had already attained a rare name for himself through his novels like "Under the greenwood tree", "Far from the maddy crowd." mayor of caster bridge, and judge the obscure.



        Most of his writings are a result  of his experience with social realities of time. Very frankly he opened up on matters of relationship and marriges. He never sheild away from exhibiting a strong temprament in showing dark elements and tragedies. Many consile him therefore neagtive in his approach towards humanity. But there are others who jointed him in the great movement of literature social realism.

        The poem "The Darkling Thrush," is one of his poem which portrays the dull and bleak pictures of dishair and rejection. The poem very strongly uses the social background as the base for the poem. The story is straight forward and clear - Why should man celebrate when there are enough things to lament over tragedies of humanity. In 1899, the world was into celebration mode to did farewell to nineteenth centuar and to welcome 20th centuary. It was during these movements of social excitement that Hardy wanted to come out with his emotions.

        The world then was dejected with numerous reasons, industrial revolution had found itself faced with everything challanges of the developing economy. Morally the society was troubled with many unanswered question of relationships. There was gloom written on the face of common people. At religion fronts, everything wasen't fine. All these combine themselves to create an atmosphere of pessimism. Hence, Hardy wrote the poem to remind us of certain truths of "Hope amidst hopelessness".

         The poem is written into four stanzas with eight lines each. It is a very special stanziac form specially created to make each stanza a perfect octave. The poem follows the rhyming scheme of ab ab cd cd. Lets not forget that hardy was a lover of romantic poem specially those of Wordsworth. Hence keeping the trepition of Romatism, he clearly reffered to nature and its beauty and truth to prove his points.

         The first stanza starts with describing Nature as it was then. It is winter time and Hardy uses the image of wintery atmosphere. England in winter times experiences a lot of hard times. This harshness and general gloom is very well depicted in  the first stanza. He was standing leanig upon a "Coppice Gate". As he leant, he saw "Frost", spector grey. it seemed to haev the entire landscape as gery as a ghost. In other words there is hardly anything which could be called green and bright. Observe how hardy keenly watches for how nature appears to him. Then he also speaks of Winters being a person and having made the lanscape evwn the dredge Desolate. There is nothing which is not dry and unpleasent.

         Having said that, Hardy now looks at the sky which seems to be carved by tangled binf stems. As he lent upon a coppice gate he could also see the tangled bnds stems all around. This gives him the imagination of stings of broken lyres. He used a simili by vine stems. Broken lyres is an imagination of sweet music comming to an end. As such, the poet very romantically makes us feel the loss of sensation which is generally experienced when the stings are properly there with the lyres. What a wonderful way too indicate loss and absence of sweet music and good pleasent sight. This is exactly why, Hardy says, "People from the neighbourhood have preferred to say in - doors near the warmth of their household fires." Marks howl the streets must have been deserted - seemingly indicating general gloom everywhere.



"As I lent upon the coppice gate,
When frost was spectre grey.
and Winters dredge made desolate,
the Weekning eye of day ...
Had sought their householf fires."

          In the seconf stanza as well, Hardy goes on to describe the loss of beauty and absence of enthusiasm, on the end of 20th centuary, the poet had single imprisonment in his mind, that humanity deserved to rejoice in better atmosphere than what was being expeienced. As a social critic, he had very negative critism of the Victorian era. He didn't appreciated how like was lived then. The issue of the society regarding relationship and the economic challanges which of the people, had made the poet very critical in his attitude. He was a socail realist who could not ignore the dark things if society then. Besides, he did not also like to ignore when things could have been better. Hence as a true romantic poet, he loved showing Nature.

          The second stanza discusses the geographical aspect of the landscape. He sees the sharp features gave him another visual imagery of a graveyard. He says all the sharp features as a grave as if centuary is dead with all his copses stretched out everywhere. Its so interesting to note here the mode of the poet, which exhibits his sadness for all and happy things around. He says the entire clowdy sky was the Canopy for the crypt. The wind sings the death lament as if  there was direge (Song for the dead). Spread about by the wind contrasts this feeling of the poet with the general atmosphere which people experience when they were getting ready to - celebrate the arrival of 1900.

            Thomas Hardy was a man of No, mean attitude. rather, he had that gut to called iron, and iron. Hence he didn't hide his disappointment that humanity wasen't at its best. rather it had been corrupted by the onslaught of in numerable vice and evils which are strong reasons to cause spiritual death. The people had lost clarity and faith. Moreover there was degradation of human tendencies to do well. There was decadence or decrease. Here the poet says that he was lamenting seeing the ancient pulse of german birth, shrinkling hard and dry. the positive force of life were somehow shrinking and the things seemed hard and dry and every spirit including the poet because "for colis" - lacking any passion to create goodness.



"The ancient pulse of gem
and birth,
was shrunken hard and dry.
and every spirit upon the earth
seemed forvolis as I."

          The first two stanzas were as exhibition of dark times. The victorian age has been portrayed through many symbol of passivity. The world seemed to be dead and the people seemed ferverless. In such moments, the poet didn't see why humanity must celebrate the eve of 20th centuary. Instead, he symbolizes the gloom through various objects in nature. He wasen't a romantic poet of the romantic age. Yet, he possessed all the features of romaticism. Specially when he beautifully uses natural features to signify the various elements of humanity.

          The nest two stanzas are a complete drift from what has been said in the first two stanzas. Nit only do we come across chanege of mood but we also have change in conciousness. When we began, the poet was melancholicallc. He say darkness and the gloom in spectre dredge and dessolation. This suddenly changes in the nest two stanzas each. The depth of the centuary will not suddenly find a new of 20th centuary. So, far the poet felt lonely but he wouldnt have a company of a bird - Thrush.


"At once a voice arose among
The leaque treats overhead
In a full hearted evil songs
of joy illimates."

            It is certainly interesting to observe the vhange. We had lamentaion and the sad winds in the first stanza. But in the third stanza we have a voice with sings in the evening full heartedly. It also sings of joy illimited. A wonderful portyal of contrasts. The beginning of the poem echoed th edeath of, the dinge for the dieng ear 1899. But the third stanza makes conscious attempts to reverse the atmosphere. It seems hardy saw something mysterious which wasent there so long because he had ignored its presence. The darkness creature of nature. This is exactly what happening once we paint ourselves with dark imagings. This birds had been there although but hardy couldnot just imagibe its presence due to harsh circumstances of the time.



           Lets also notice the dicton now onwards first we have "a voice". This phase represents the presence of something which th epoet failed to hear. Perhaps he was too busy with listening to negativity and sad notes. In the mindset of such confused times he heard a voice. Next, we have "The bleak twigs" which symbolizes death but the poet combines these two phases and comes with a fantastic idea - A voice arising from the bleaque twigs. This is why Hardy is a poet of great imagination. No body hears any voice comming out of something dead. But not only do we hear a voice but we are reminded as well that the voice is "Full hearted" and of joy illimited. This contrasting technique serves the purpose successfuly that every thing is not over despite the growing gloom of the time. We still have "HOPE", even in times of hopelessness.


"An aged thrush, frail, gaunt, and small,
In blast beruffed plum,
Had chosen thus to fling his soul
upon the grooming gloom."

           Lets now observe the feature of over "Thrush". Generally if we were here a voice singing a full hearted song of joy illimited in the ebening, We would have in our mind a picture of beauty. Quiet shockingly though we are presented with just the contrary. The Thrush is aged, frail, Gaunt and small. Besides it has been weather beaten and her feather aren't strong enough to fly to the height. We would imagine then that the bird is opposite here. The bird has chosen to "Fling his soul". Even in the growning gloom. Such observation of natural truth which reminds us of driven message are indeed a reason in the poem of Thomas Hardy.

           In the last stanza, Hardy moves forward to finally declare his final motive - the presence and existance of hope amidst gloom. This positivity and sense of optimism comes up when the opet says what he was learned an external message that even when there was no caroling and ecastic sound written on terrestrial things, he had finally accepted for sure. That in the death of the dying year lies the seeds of new life.



"That I could Think there
tremble through,
His happy good - night air,
Some blessed hope, where
he knew and I was unaware."

           Although the aged bird looked frail and small, it did not lack the perception of hope. It knew the surrounding well enough and yet it is distined to sing at night. The darkness of the night cannot prevent it from emphasizing the music present in the soul. As such it cannot wait for the day to come to sing a song. Rather the melodies have to be sung what it darkens. This is what hardy observed.

           His melancholic mood perceived the happy goodnight air. He understands that there was "blessed hope." even when he was cursing his time. The darkling thrush is a symbol of this blessing hope he was unaware off.

         To conclude, lets say that the whole poem is built upon a wonderful presence of contrast. The first two stanzas presents us with darkness, passivity gloom and coldness, passively, gloom and coldness. But the final two stanzas give us joy and hope coloured with sweet melody of the night. The poem is a mark of hope and Joy amidst loss of faith and trust.

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