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Darkling Thrush analysis

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How does hardy suggest his own spiritual state by images of darkness and decay in this poem? The Darkling Thrush was written and set at the turn of century, in the depths of the harsh British winter, "when Frost was spectre-gray". It conveys Hardy's dismay at the rapid industrialisation of Britain, which he saw as ruining the rural landscape, corrupting the "ancient pulse of germ and birth" at the very heart of nature. The poem is written in first person, and we may presume that Hardy is the speaker. Hardy uses first person in an attempt to emphasise that his musings on the destruction of the countryside could be shared by all; he makes the poem at once universal and also personal. The use of first person helps the reader to really share Hardy's experience and witness his true emotions. The only other character within the poem is the "aged thrush" which appears mid poem to break up the miserable description of the desolate night. ...read more.


The use of the thrush shows that Hardy is so down-trodden in this poem, that the smallest, unlikely glimmers of hope are to him illuminating, and reflect and illuminate the "land's sharp features". "Evensong" means a song sung in the evening, significant here both for an "aged" bird and because it is the last day of a century. The image of the bird "choosing" to "fling his soul / Upon the growing gloom" suggests both hope and desperation, almost invoking the image of suicide, or one last action before death and this resonates with the speaker's own emotions. For all the hope that the little bird brings, there is no doubt that the majority of the poem is about darkness and despair, conveying Hardy's views on the new century and the industrialisation it will bring with it. The "coppice gate" suggests an enclosed wood, suggesting a last sanctuary from the industrialisation happening elsewhere, although even within this little patch of hope, the scene is desolate. ...read more.


This morbid imagery shows that Hardy longs for the past already and perhaps thinks the new century will bring only more misery. Mankind is also pictured as weak and cowardly for having "sought their household fires" and escaped the destruction they caused; they are also all seemed to be as "favourless as I", as Hardy bids everyone to join in his mourning. When the thrush, a figure of almost godlike over proportion, "fling[s] his soul/ upon the glowing gloom", Hardy cannot understand what happiness could propel him to do so. He literally cannot think of anything on Earth, "so little cause for ecstatic sound...was written on terrestrial things". Concluding by suggesting he must be sent by god, as suggested by the capitalisation of Hope and the idea that the thrush is singing a "carol" and is singing because of extra terrestrial things; hardy shows his utter lack of faith in the human world, there is literally nothing here to bring him hope, leaving us with a parting image of his despairing mental state. ...read more.

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