For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move. ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Some Blessed Hope

Almost back to winter again this morning with frost and fog and a temperature of -2 degrees. This blog's been occupied with cold weather, songbirds and Thomas Hardy lately - so what better poem to quote today than Hardy's The Darkling Thrush.

The Darkling Thrush

I leant upon a coppice gate
When Frost was spectre-gray,
And Winter's dregs made desolate
The weakening eye of day.
The tangled bine-stems scored the sky
Like strings of broken lyres,
And all mankind that haunted nigh
Had sought their household fires.

The land's sharp features seemed to be
The Century's corpse outleant,
His crypt the cloudy canopy,
The wind his death lament.
The ancient pulse of germ and birth
Was shrunken hard and dry,
And every spirit upon earth
Seemed fervourless as I.

At once a voice arose among
The bleak twigs overhead
In a full-hearted evensong
Of joy illimited;
An aged thrush, frail, gaunt, and small,
In blast-beruffled plume,
Had chosen thus to fling his soul
Upon the growing gloom.

So little cause for carolings
Of such ecstatic sound
Was written on terrestrial things
Afar or nigh around,
That I could think there trembled through
His happy good-night air
Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew
And I was unaware.


31 December 1900

Perfection.

8 comments:

Loren said...

This was the first poem that I ever willingly memorized.

Still sticks with me as a good summary of Hardy's philosophy.

Dominic Rivron said...

"Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew
And I was unaware". I tend to like anything in literature or music that draws attention to that quality of birdsong.

Every time I read a Hardy poem I am reminded how good a poet he was. I should read more.

Bella said...

Hauntingly beautiful..

Raph G. Neckmann said...

Yes - perfection.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Oddly, as you slip back to winter, we've embraced a dress rehearsal of spring—63 degrees F here today, and mid-60s predicted for next few days. We do have songbirds singing.

I really don't know the poetry of Hardy at all, but this is just lovely and haunting and so very fine—particularly the final lines. I really must read him.

The Weaver of Grass said...

I think this is one of the few Hardy peoms that I really like. I find some of them a bit turgid but this one is beautiful.

Val said...

Completely off-topic:
I had to get a cavity filled yesterday and I thought of you as the drill worked it's way into my tooth...and thought how, for the both of us, our life could be told through the details of our dental adventures...

Oh, and beautiful poem too...
: )

The Solitary Walker said...

Yes, that last stanza is wonderful, isn't it?

Weaver, I think you'll like more than you may think if you dip into the 'Selected Poems' edited by Walford Davies. It contains some of the 'Emma' poems about his 1st wife (superb), and poems like 'Wessex Heights', 'Weathers', 'Shut Out That Moon' - oh, and lots of others.

I think many famous poets (Wordsworth, Shelley,lots of the Roamantics etc) have written & published stuff inferior to their best work - turgid even - it's only when we stagger through their 'Complete Works' we realise this (so often we read carefully edited 'Selected Works' - thank goodness!)

BTW, off on a tangent here, but it's just occurred to me that the 1st 2 lines of 'Shut Out That Moon' ("Close up the casement, draw the blind,/Shut out that stealing moon") could easily have been the inspiration behind Bob Dylan's 'I'll Be Your Baby Tonight' ("Shut the light, shut the shade...That big, fat moon's gonna shine like a spoon...") Anyone else think so? There are some remarkable resemblances.

Val... Ow! What a sharp, pointed, deep, penetrating and fulfilling comment!