Analysis On Darkling Thrush

792 words - 4 pages

New Year’s Eve marks the end of the Gregorian calendar. It is a time for Americans to rejoice, reminisce, and look forward to a new year. “The Darkling Thrush” was written on the last day of the 19th century, December 31, 1900, and it was not a time of joy. This was the last day of the industrial revolution, a period in history when both Americans and Europeans transitioned from agricultural techniques to industrial mechanisms. For some this was a booming era, but for most it was a time of poor work conditions and long work hours. The poem is a reflection of the speaker’s despair and pessimism. However it is followed by the optimistic song of the thrush. Hardy utilizes the imagery of a dreary winter landscape to illustrate the dreadful conditions and the passing of the nineteenth century and the musical composition of a thrush as a metaphor for the hopeful century to follow.
The poem begins by painting a hopeless and cold portrait of the environment experienced by the speaker. It is winter time and the frost is “specter gray” (2), implying filthy snow, probably from the pollution due to the new factories created in industrialization and urbanization. Not the beautiful white snow they were used to. Nothing had a glimpse of hope or beauty anymore, not even the bine of the plants; the speaker describes them as “strings of broken lyres” (6). Lyres are often associated with Greek gods or angels. However in the poem he illustrates the destruction of the land using this metaphor of the broken strings, something use to be beautiful. The streets are bare and “all mankind” (7) has retreat back home and “sought their household fire” (8).
The land and the wintry landscape is a representation of the death of the 19th century, “the century’s corpse” (10). The 19th century became cold and lifeless scenery that showed no promise. The speaker uses the environmental elements to describe the death of the century that past. “The century’s corpse outleant” (10) has died and its body remains on this land. The century is then laid in a “crypt” in the “cloudy canopy,” a grave site in the sky. During this death “the wind” (12) mourned. The burial of the past century caused a decline in spirituality. People became restrained by their new social...

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