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Some Blessed Hope...

Today as we stand on the edge of a new year, I am reminded of the poem "The Darkling Thrush" by Victorian Realist, Thomas Hardy. Known mainly for his dark novels where the setting plays a role as significant as any of the characters, Hardy also wrote some dark poetry. Like many of the poets and writers of his time, he feared what lay ahead in the new century as 1899 became 1900, and this poem projects that fear. Unless we read to the end, we do not hear the voice of the Romantics like Wordsworth(who influenced Hardy) which suggests that Nature knows that all will be well, that seasons come and seasons go, and that "the sun will come out tomorrow!" It would behoove us to look for and listen to "the aging thrush" in our surroundings and "some blessed Hope" in his song.

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.

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