Therefore all seasons shall be sweet to thee,
Whether summer clothe the general earth
With greeness, or the redbreast sit and sing
Betwixt the tufts of snow on the bare branch
Of mossy apple-tree, while the nigh thatch
Smokes in the sun-thaw; whether the eave-drops fall
Heard only in the trances of the blast,
Or if the secret ministry of frost
Shall hang them up in silent icicles,
Quietly shining to the quiet Moon.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

The Darkling Thrush

I leant upon a coppice gate
When Frost was spectre-gray,
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.

This poem by Thomas Hardy seems very appropriate for the present weather, Old Man Winter has come to remind us that he isn't finished with us just yet. The photographs are mine apart from the songthrush which I've borrowed from the web - a small local nature blog called Westfield Life

I think Hardy must have written this poem at about this time of year, he certainly sounds as though he's had enough of the winter:) The very cold clear weather does have its positive side however, we have had some beautiful daybreaks and sunrises - I only wish I could manage to take a halfway decent photograph of one of them - this is the best I've managed so far taken a couple of days ago at the bottom of Shorts Lane.


moonstruckcreations said...

What a beautiful post, I hadnt read that poem before. It really goes with the lovely photos.

Sounds like we might be in for a bit of snow this weekend - so we are definitely still in midwinter!


Bovey Belle said...

One of my favourite of Hardy's poems and very apt for this time of year.

Snow forecast here too but I am hoping that rain will triumph!

Diane said...

I love the way you introduce me to poetry that I don't know and it is so very fitting. x

pattypan.2 said...

How beautiful those words really touch the soul and bring the essence of the Thrush to life. I must say I hahaven't come across this poem before and I haven't read any Thomas Hardy. I think I may have to remedy that. I also love your photo very gentle like the early morn.

Thank you for sharing Rowan. Hope you are keeping well.



Kathy said...

I love reading the Hardy novels, but I don't know any of his poetry. Thank you for introducing me to this one.
No, I don't think winter's quite finished with us yet, we have heavy snow forecast this afternoon, but there's no sign yet. Your photographs are beautiful!

elaine rickett said...

A very fitting poem for this time of year - I'm getting a bit fed up with winter now - I think you had better get looking for an appropriate spring poem to cheer me up a bit. Love your new header by the way.

John "By Stargoose And Hanglands" said...

I remember having to read that poem at school but hadn't come across it since. I appreciate it more now than I did when staring out of the classroom window waiting for the bell to ring!

Rosie said...

That is a wonderful poem! The thrush that visits our garden has been calling every day and using the bird feeders as well. We have been out and about this morning and have now 'sought our household fire' Stay warm!:)

Foxglove Lane said...

I love the poem, thanks. But I really love that photograph of the gate with the icy trees beyond, really gorgeous. I know what you mean about winter....lingering here too:~)

Tina said...

Beautiful poem and I love how you illustrate it with your pictures. I just dicovered Thomas Hardy... Listening to the audio-version of The return of the native read by Alan Rickman. Lovely to listen to but very hard for me. Need to listen to that one more than once to really get it I think.

Mary said...

I wasn't familiar with this Hardy poem, but it's lovely and your pics do it justice Rowan. Winter scenery is my favorite I think, especially when showing my much missed English countryside. Brings back so many early memories when I learned so much about the Devon countryside.............during those good old days before technology was even a word!

Speaking of familiar scenery - of a very different kind - I'll be returning to South Africa this Summer, and am excited. However, our lodge has just suffered serious flooding, a bridge was washed away which hopefully will be rebuilt by the time we arrive. Hope your family has not been impacted by flooding. Are you going over this year?

Happy weekend dear - more English countryside please!

Hugs - Mary

George said...

A lovely Hardy poem, Rowan, and nicely illustrated with your photos. The images really capture the spirit of the poem.

Dog Trot Farm said...

How lovely. Winter here has gained it's stride. A bit on the cold side, however, it is one of those sky blue sunny days. Thank you for introducing me to this wonderful Hardy poem. Greetings from Maine, Julie.

Anonymous said...

Very beautiful. It is such a long time ago that we've had such cold weather. I have taken some pictures too, because you have to take them when you have the chance. Next week it might all be gone again ; )
Have a wonderful weekend.

Patricia said...

This was a lovely poem Rowan and your photos were beautiful and so fitting. Thankyou.

Janet said...

That first photo really caught my eye. It's beautiful even though it looks cold. We've had a very mild winter even for here.

Angela Bell said...

I love that Hardy poem and you have made a beautiful post with it.
Have you been to Hardy's Cottage. it is National Trust and really is atmospheric.We had a "library ladies" outing there last year that is me and two work mates! Strangly although we didnt know at the time it was Hardy's birthday and there we were looking at the bed in the room where he was born!

Dartford Warbler said...

One of my favourite Hardy poems. I was thinking of it out in the fields yesterday. The coldest evening for a long while, yet there was a robin singing in the hedge.

Jo (Pieceful Afternoon) said...

I will repeat the others - one of my favorites. Seems this time of year has a special charm, though it be cold - it has its own glory. Lovely photos.

Cheryl said...

Hi Rowan,

Beautiful poetry....very moving for me.

February can be such a cruel month.....

Anonymous said...

Lovely poetry, seems so very apt as I'm sitting here looking at the snow through my window. xxx

Kadeeae said...

I'd never read this before, it's really lovely. Thanks for posting it Rowan :)

Louise said...

I'm just stopping by to say thanks for your recent comments, especially for the one about my rosacea - thanks for reading the long post! I had a most unexptected response to it!

We had about three inches of snow here too, but it is melting fast. I wish it had arrived early monday morning so that I could have had a 'snow day' and not had to go to school, hehe!

Zuzana said...

Beautiful poem and images.;) I agree with you on the sunrises and sunsets.;)
What lovely blog you have here and I love the text in your header and the title of the blog - I too love to follow the natural cycle of the year.;)
Thank you for stopping by my place and for your lovely comment,

Roy said...

I really like the snowy hilltop Rowan and the shot with the moon in and nothing beats the sight of a five-barred gate.

Pomona said...

The poem is dated at the turn of the year, and the century. I love it - I have taught it to so many children, and have had to explain what coppicing is to all of them, so that they can understand the imagery of the lyre!

Pomona x

Carolyn said...

It seems winter has arrived here too as we have several cm. of snow and colder temps-pretty though.We had several robins in our garden today-a first sign of spring.
Your photos are very pretty and a lovely poem to go with them.

WOL said...

I'm about to start "A Letter To Mary" by Laurie King, and I have the next two books already downloaded to my Kindle. No trees were harmed during the process.