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Blessed Hope

In the face of the turn of the century over 100 years ago, English writer and pessimist Thomas Hardy wrote this poem, well aware of the daunting future that lay ahead for the world. Like William Butler Yeats in his prophetic poem "The Second Coming," Hardy predicted that things were falling apart.

Hardy, a writer of the bleak and stark nature of mankind as reflected in the bleak and stark nature of the English moors, rarely found the good in things, mostly just the dark. And yet, in this beautiful poem which he wrote on New Year's Eve 1899, there is a glimmer of hope.

(Read aloud for full effect!)

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.

Here we stand on another precipice, the turn from one decade to another, faced with much about which to lament, much about which to worry. But like Hardy, I suspect if we listen closely to the natural world around us, we will hear "Some blessed hope" about which we are unaware. Happy New Year, my friends. May you find great comfort in the natural world!

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