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The background and commentary on the darkling thrush by hardy

An aged thrush, frail, gaunt, and small, In blast-beruffled plume, Had chosen thus to fling his soul Upon the growing gloom. Hardy underscores the speaker's meditative mood by describing him leaning upon a "coppice gate," meaning a gate that opens onto the woods. The presence of frost tells readers it is winter, and the adjective "spectre-grey," a word Hardy coined, suggests a haunted landscape.

The word "dregs" means the last of something, but here the dregs act upon the "weakening eye of day," making the twilight "desolate. Although "score" is a musical term, Hardy uses it to create an ominous visual image. While the speaker is outside contemplating a bleak landscape, the rest of the world is comfortably inside, warmed by "their household fires. The now personified century is entombed in the sky "the cloudy canopy"and the wind is its "death lament.

In the last two lines, the speaker compares himself with "every spirit upon earth," projecting his despondency onto the world. Far from the Madding Crowd was reproduced in 1967, this time directed by John Schlesinger.

The Darkling Thrush

Academy Award-winning director Roman Polanski adapted and directed Tess of the d'Ubervilles for the screen in 1979. Stanza 3 This stanza marks a break in the tone and action of the poem, as the speaker hears an old thrush break out in song.

Thrushes are fairly common songbirds and usually have a brownish upper plumage and a spotted breast. The image also evokes the phoenix, a mythological bird with a beautiful song that self-reincarnates from its own ashes. Stanza 4 In this stanza, the speaker expresses incredulity at the bird's singing "carolings"literally wondering what on Earth "terrestrial things" could make it so happy. The incongruity of a joyful bird amidst such a stark landscape is striking, and it puzzles the speaker who, though he can recognize joy, cannot experience it himself.

However, the word "blessed," the capitalization of "Hope," and the limiting phrase "terrestrial things" open the possibility that there might be religious or spiritual reasons for the thrush's behavior. The speaker's acknowledgement that he is "unaware" of the cause of the bird's singing also suggests the possibility that there may indeed be a cause for it and that the speaker might in time come to know that cause.

Themes Search for Meaning The speaker's despair echoes Hardy's own world-weariness and loss of hope for humanity's future. Isolated from those who have "sought their household fires," the speaker sees a death-haunted landscape and a "growing gloom. The speaker's connection to the past has been severed, and he cannot find meaning in the present, and the dawning century, symbolized by the thrush's song, offers little in the way of meaning.

The bird is "frail, gaunt, and small," and his "carolings," though joyful and "fullhearted," are an evensong and about to end. Any meaning that a new beginning might bring with it is nowhere to be found, not in the landscape and not in the speaker's heart. Topics for Further Study Compare the attitude of the speaker in Hardy's poem towards the new century with your own attitude towards the beginning of the twenty-first century. What similarities and differences do you see?

Discuss this as a class. In groups, compose a poster based on Hardy's poem. You will have to decide what to put in and what to leave out from what he describes. Feel free to use abstractions in your depiction. Hang the poster on the wall, and then discuss with your class the choices you made in composing it.

Write a short essay exploring the influence of romanticism on Hardy, who was a Victorian poet. How do the different styles of these poets qualify the role of the songbird in the poems? Write a poem or a story about a time when you were depressed or feeling very sad, and include what happened to change your mood assuming it the background and commentary on the darkling thrush by hardy changed. Be sure to include at least two "nonce" words in your poem or story.

Nonce words bear a resemblance to currently used words or phrases.

  • Paradoxically, the world revolves around him, yet also seems to ignore him;
  • The ironic distinction between Hardy's thrush and Keats's is only one, as we shall shortly see, of a number of clues and devices by which Hardy distances himself from the Romantic Lyric;
  • This division is within the poet, separating the one who writes from the one who thinks and suffers—and who, in suffering, can question the worth of writing;
  • In giving shape to despair, as Beckett obeys the injunction in Watt—'Nothingness in words enclose'—there is always a purpose implied, even faith and hope;
  • It is one of Hardy's most lyrical poems, musical in execution, metaphor, theme, and even title;
  • In Hardy's poem the thrush remains a thrush and the poet in his metonymic identity with the thrush is deprived of his humanity.

Hardy often created nonce words, like "outleant" lean outfor specific poems or stories. Write another stanza for the poem that takes place a year later. Follow the poem's meter and rhyme scheme exactly. Take turns reading your poems to the class, and then discuss the differences among them. Nature In Hardy's poem, nature is not a pretty place where flowers bloom and fuzzy animals frolic in the sun waiting to be petted. It is governed by the cycle of life and death and is largely indifferent to human needs or desires.

Hardy's speaker, however, finds no inspiration in the processes of the natural world. Though he has meditated on the nature of life, he has found no life in nature. Even the thrush, the harbinger of hope, is "aged" and on its last song. By using the exhausted landscape as a symbolic projection of the speaker's own interior life, Hardy makes a bleak comment on the potential of human nature as well. Chaos and Order The form of Hardy's poem is traditional in meter and rhyme and acts as a container of sorts for the chaos of the landscape he describes.

Other structural parallels similarly give the poem a coherence that the poem's themes work against.

Extended commentary of 'The Darkling Thrush' by Thomas Hardy

The speaker's posture leaning "upon a coppice gate," for example, is like the "Century's corpse outleant. Style Form Composed in four octet, or eight-line, stanzas, with an ABABCDCD rhyme scheme, "The Darkling Thrush" is written in iambic tetrameter, with lines one, three, five, and seven carrying four stressed syllables, and lines two, four, six, and eight carrying three stressed syllables. In poetry, a foot refers to a group of syllables, one of which is accented.

An iambic foot, the most popular in English verse, consists of an unaccented syllable followed by an accented syllable. The restrictions of these conventional features are at odds with the tone of despair and portrayal of meaninglessness in the poem, creating a the background and commentary on the darkling thrush by hardy that gives the poem energy and emotional depth.

Diction Diction refers to an author's word choice. Hardy is known for his innovative use of the English languageand he frequently coined new words in his poetry. He called words created for a single occasion "nonce words," and in "The Darkling Thrush" he uses a few, including "outleant," "blastberuffled," and "spectre-gray" to fit the meter and rhyme scheme of the poem.

He was especially deft at creating compound words such as the latter two. A student of the English languageHardy also echoed unusual words used by other poets. To personify something is to give human qualities to inanimate things. Hardy does this throughout the poem, describing twilight as the "weakening eye of day" and the landscape as "The Century's corpse.

Other tropes include metaphor, metonymy, simile, and synecdoche. England controlled a sizeable portion of the world's land, including India, large swaths of Africa and China, Australia, and Canada. Some were outright colonies; others held "dominion" status.

Poem of the week: The Darkling Thrush, by Thomas Hardy

Poems of the Past and the Present 1901which includes "The Darkling Thrush," also contains many poems expressing Hardy's dismay with British imperialism.

Poems in the section "War Poems," for example, deal primarily with the Boer War. More than a half million British soldiers fought in the war and tens of thousands were killed before the war ended in 1902 with the Treaty of Vereeniging. Hardy's disillusionment with humanity was also a disillusionment with his country's policies. Britain viewed its imperialistic expansion as a moral responsibility, using Darwin's theories of evolution as a rationale for exerting greater control over their colonies.

British writer Rudyard Kipling referred to this responsibility as "the white man's burden," meaning that it was the God-given duty of the British to civilize and Christianize those people whom the British assumed were incapable of governing themselves.

Hardy was also disillusioned with the ways in which industrialization was changing how human beings related to their environment. During Queen Victoria's reign, technologies such as the railway, electricity, the steamship, and suspension bridges re-shaped the the background and commentary on the darkling thrush by hardy lives of millions of British subjects, sending them flocking to cities to work in factories and live in row houses.

The agricultural depression of the 1870s further depleted the number of remaining farmers. By the turn of the century, more than 80 percent of Britain's population lived in cities.

Hardy's pessimism, rooted in his lament for the now abandoned farms of the British countryside and for the loss of folk customs and traditions, is a pessimism of which the British in general have been historically accused. Poems such as "The Darkling Thrush" did nothing to dispel that image. The sentiment expressed in the last lines of the poem, that of a man who would like to feel joy but cannot, mirrors Hardy's, and many other late Victorians', attitude towards religion: This shift in attitude came about gradually but was in no small part due to the influence of Charles Darwin's theories of evolution, detailed in his study On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, published in 1859.

Science itself, in its modern incarnation, was a product of Victorian England, replacing the fields of "natural philosophy" and "natural history. With the popularization of evolution and the formalization of science education in schools, more people began questioning the place of human beings in nature and the universe.

Karl Marx 's publication of the The Communist Manifesto in 1848 also gave Victorians another way to think about their place in the social pecking order.

Author Biography

By 1901, although churchgoing remained a regular part of small town life, only about 20 percent of the people in London regularly attended services.

The British Empire is at its strongest, controlling more than 4 million square miles worldwide, including India and large parts of China and Africa. After losing control of foreign lands that were once a part of the British Empre, Great Britain heads the Commonwealth of Nations. South Africa is an independent and democratic country. At the turn of the century, the population of England and Wales is approximately 32.

The population of England and Wales is approximately 50. Critical Overview On the whole, critics have been kind to "The Darkling Thrush," praising both its subject matter and its form. It is one of Hardy's most written-about poems.

Moments of Vision," Geoffrey Harvey calls "The Darkling Thrush" a poem of the highest imaginative order," noting that the speaker mourns God's death as much as the death of nature.

Sheila Berger, in her study Thomas Hardy and Visual Structures, makes a link between what the speaker physically sees and the thematic vision of the poem. Taylor writes, "'The Darkling Thrush' … announces itself as the last nineteenth-century revision of the great tradition.

In his essay for English Literary History, Perkins claims that Hardy's thrush, however, is a "more complicated—symbolic reference … with the implication that there is no hope of closing the gap between the speaker and bird.

I need a summary for the poem "The Darkling Thrush."

In this essay, Semansky considers modernist attitudes in Hardy's poem. Critics have long called Hardy a transitional figure between the Victorian era and the modern world. Though it is easy to see the Victorian influences in his poetry, especially in his traditional verse forms and his nostalgia for older, simpler ways of living, it is often more difficult to see what makes him a modernist.

In "The Darkling Thrush," written at the beginning of a new century, Hardy evokes some of the ideas and sentiments that would influence numerous subsequent poets such as Wilfred OwenPhilip Larkinand W.

Auden and that would help to shape modernist attitudes towards history and humanity. These include the representation of nature as a hostile or, at best, an indifferent force, a tolerance for contradiction, and a deep pessimism about the potential for humanity to change its behavior. The Victorian era, lasting from 1837 until Queen Victoria's death in 1901, was marked by intense and rapid change political, technological, socioeconomic, and psychologicaland writing during the period often addresses the idea of loss.

One stereotype of Victorian writing, especially poetry, depicts it as overly polite, grave, and with a thread of uncertainty and doubt running through it. Matthew Arnold 's "Dover Beach" 1867for example, laments human misery and the loss of faith.