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The Darkling Thrush is a poem by Thomas Hardy. Originally titled The Century's End, 1900, it was published on 29 December 1900 in The Graphic. A deleted '1899' on the poem's manuscript may suggest that it had been written the year before.  It was later included in a collection entitled Poems of the Past and the Present] (1903).
The first stanzas open with a description of the dreary, bleak winter landscape, but the melancholy tone is transformed by the bright, optimistic singing of "an aged thrush, frail, gaunt, and small." In the end, the speaker concludes that the small bird possesses "some blessed Hope, whereof he knew and I was unaware."
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.
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