Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Darkling darling

New Year's Eve poetry is often ambiguous; what has gone or been let go the year before and only the unknown to come; hard to keep the faith or any faith for that matter.

So let the man of Dorset Thomas Hardy and his hidden joyful thrush wing us into 2014 once more...

The Darkling Thrush

I leant upon a coppice gate
      When frost was spectre-grey,
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.

December 31st 1900

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