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“The Darkling Thrush is a poem of despair of hopelessness”. Do you agree?

“The Darkling Thrush is a poem of despair of hopelessness”. Do you agree?

1 Answer

  1. Thomas Hardy’s poem , “The Darling Thrush” conveys a sense of ‘despair and hopelessness’ as the poet mourns the end of the dying nineteenth century. With the enhancement of industries with the help of science and technology , the mankind’s relationship with the nature is lost.

    The setting of the poem takes place in a dark , frosty and barren landscape where there is no signs of hope or renewal. Even the sun’s light is weakening and is getting dull with the passing of the day which is in contrast to the usual connotations associated with it that is warmth and brightness. In the beginning of the poem , the speaker is leaning on a “coppice gate” which is a symbol of a new century or a new place  and also the act of leaning indicates that the speaker is tired and  dejected. He is found to be standing in an isolated surrounding on a frosty evening where everything was “spectre grey” that is as grey as a ghost thereby adding horror to the landscape . He compares the “tangled bine stems” to the strings of an old musical instrument showing the absence of joy and harmony in speaker’s vision of life . He is left brooding over the humanity’s bleak future whereas everybody else “sought the warmth of their household fires” . The poem further intensifies in the second stanza with the ideas portraying death and darkness. He further personifies ” Century” by using a capital letter ‘C’ . He gives it the characteristics of a corpse whose sharp features are similar to the sharp outlines of the winter landscape, and the “cloudy canopy” as it’s tomb with the cold blowing winds being it’s death song. He feels that the next spring might not come as the very “pulse” of life and germ were “shrunken hard and dry”. The speaker believes that every man on the planet is as “fervourless” as he. It is suggestive of the death of hope that energises him and other people. The poem’s tone suddenly shifts from that of desolation to hope as the speaker hears an aged thrush singing an evensong of “illimited joy” which is in contrast to the environment and also the image of the the bird for it appeared ,  ” frail , small and gaunt” with “blast beruffled plume” that is scruvy feathers. Even though it is the last day of the century , the bird still chooses to ” fling it’s soul” upon the growing gloom indicative of the fact that it knew of some ” blessed hope ” that the speaker was not aware of . It is an indirect reference to Jesus Christ’s sufferings and death on the cross ; followed by his  resurrection from death bringing hope to mankind. The last stanza of the poem is filled with life and hope as the speaker continue to thing about what “terrestrial things” made him so joyful and happy. Although he expresses his inability to understand the cause behind the thrush’s joyful singing in such a dark broken world , he could not help but still feel despair as in his vision , there was nothing which could replace or revive the old century .

    • Hence, Hardy depicts this poem as a theme of despair and hopelessness with no meaning left in life. As a reader , I agree to the question with the clear  explanation above.

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