The Darkling Thrush Analysis by Thomas Hardy

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The poem ‘The Darkling Thrush’ is one of Thomas Hardy’s most popular and anthologized lyrics, which is included in his second volume of verse Poems of the Past and the Present. Critics praised the poem from all angles, such as Richard Carpenter who described it as “sharp and clear in its images, harsh and austere in its feelings’. [6] It was written by Hardy at aged sixty six (far past the life expectancy for a man of his time) on the eve of the new century [3] and describes his outlook about the “growing gloom” of what lay ahead. The poem, originally titled “By the Century’s deathbed” consists of thirty two lines which are composed in four octet stanzas written in iambic tetrameter [5] that portray a dismal, bleak and gloomy atmosphere. [2] In close resemblance to much of Hardy’s other works “The Darkling Thrush” embodies the writer’s despair and pessimism, for instance within the volume of verse it is slotted between two other bleak poems of nature “The Comet at Yell’ham,” and “The Last Chrysanthemum” [2] In the first stanza, the speaker is shown to be in reflective and somewhat meditative mood and is leaning against ‘a coppice gate’. The coppice is a large dense wooded area described as ‘spectre-grey’, this compound epithet emphasises greyness of the scene around him, symbolising the fatality of nature. The presence of ‘Frost’ tells readers it is winter, and this is highlighted by a capital letter to reinforce the significance of the season. The use of a deathly stil, bleak and wintry landscape is a metaphor for the close of the nineteenth century; it is not just the winter of one year, but a winter of the whole century. This is an agricultural area, though he fears it will become urbanised and destroyed by humanity before it has a chance to re-blossom in the spring of the next century. The poem was written
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