Poem of the Month: January

Books & Literature

It’s 2015, hoorah!

Despite the fact that I am entering the new year heartily unemployed and brimming with mince pies, I’m feeling rather excited. It’s my birthday in a few days and I’m embarking on a supreme health kick involving an excess of curly kale. I’ve also been working casually at a national newspaper which looks promising, and I’ve had a few delicious ideas for my Masters thesis.

January’s poem of the month happens to be my favourite poem of all time! The Darkling Thrush was written at the turn of the century; the narrator observes the crisp, hostile landscape and anticipates a dark future ahead. But, upon hearing the ‘full-hearted evensong’ of a weary, old thrush, he is revived with hope.

Despite his depressing tendencies, Hardy is one of my favourite British writers, and I think this poem is perfect for the cynics among us who need to cheer up. I’ve included a few photos I took over Christmas in the South Downs where, when not in smoggy London, I am fortunate enough to live!

The Darkling Thrush by Thomas Hardy

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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3 thoughts on “Poem of the Month: January

  1. Hi Tiff, that poem brought back some long-lost memories of A-Level English Lit! Lovely photos too. Jim x

  2. Marvelous poem, and seems wonderful to memorize and recite when one runs through beautiful landscape! Also I wonder if we’re birthday twins – January 7 is mine! More twinnage: I’ve quit my editor job in favor of writing full-time too. Here’s to our success!

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