ISC Poem “The Darkling Thrush ” Question and Answers: death of hope and bleak future


The DarlingThrush  representing the death of hope and bleak future

Question : Discuss “The Darkling Thrush” as a representing the death of hope and bleak future.

Answer :  In the poem”The Darkling Thrush ”  the poet describes his own feelings and also the feelings of an entire nation at the passing of a century and transition between the Victorian era and the modern era. The Victorian era was marked by the intense and rapid change in politics, society and religious beliefs due to the developments in science and technology. These changes created a feeling of hopelessness and bleak future in the poet’s mind which is reflected in the poem .


  The growth of industrialisation and urbanisation had changed human beings and their relationship with their environment. It also caused to agricultural depression due to decrease in number of farmers as people had moved towards the Industrial cities.

      Technological progress and scientific knowledge had not only brought enlightenment to masses , but they also brought more misery and pain. Hardy’s hopelessness is mainly due to the abandoned farms of the countryside and the loss of rural customs and traditions.

     The poet feels himself as an isolated man. He has lost his connection with the nineteenth century and has no hopes for the coming twentieth century. He is saddened by the fact that the old century is dying and there is nothing to replace it.

   In the poem the poet expresses his despair and hopelessness regarding the decay of traditional and natural world. He is unaware of what is in store for humanity in the upcoming century and finds no hopes for something positive. For this reason Hardy creates a bleak picture of the world around him  – to express the hopelessness and dejection in his mind through the picture of a desolate and dead landscape. 

              The speaker, leaning on a gate looks at the darkening countryside. The landscape around him is gloomy and barren. He finds the setting Sun as ” a weakening eye”and the land which is covered with Frost is  ” Spectre – grey “.

” The Frost was Spectre – grey”

“And Winter’s dreg made desolate

    The weakening eye of day”

The land appears to  him ghost like grey. While the falling snow as a residue of winter made the setting sun more desolate. There is no music of hope and happiness all around as the strings of lyres are broken .

        The speaker is all alone in the wintry frosty night on a barren landscape while all the other people were spending time with their families inside their houses –

“Had sought their household fires”

The feeling of loneliness and desolated made the speaker more gloomy and despair dejected. 

Loss of Creativity –

The cold ,grey and gloomy landscape appears to him like the dead old century’s corpse stretched in front of him. The thick grey heavy clouds seemed to be the cover of the tomb while the shrill sound of the cold wind, sounds like a death lament for the old century. All these metaphor of death are used to create a gloomy environment where there is no hope or cheerfulness of any upcoming event. There is a sense of loss everywhere even the life force which gives birth to living things appears to be weakened slumbered – 

“The ancient pulse of germ and birth

 Was shrunken hard and dry”

This results in lack of energy  and vitality in every spirit indicates the death of hope in world. 

Death of Hope –

The speaker is so engrossed in his thoughts of hopelessness that even the joyful song of the thrush does not heard any hope for the future in the new century. 

         The thrush, the symbol of hope is depicted as “aged”,  “frail”, ” gaunt ” and “small”  who is in danger of being overpowered by the elements of nature. The word “blast beruffled” emphasise the power of wind and puny and pitiful status of the thrush. 

    The speaker wondered – why this poor and weak bird would choose this dark,cold and gloomy moment “to fling his soul” out in a song. 

   He could not find any terrestrial cause, in the distance or near around  which can make the bird to produce such joyful “ecstatic sound”.

Bleak Future –

The internal gloominess and despair of the speaker prohibits him to see any hope and the outlook for the new century appears to be so bleak. 

      The song of the thrush is an ” evensong ” means a song of evening rather than morning . The song of the thrush here symbolises the speaker’s fervourless spirit. The thrush is presented as “aged”, ” frail ” ,”gaunt ” and  “small”which doesn’t  symbolise new life but clings to the dyimng old century. Even after hearing the thrush’ s 

” full – hearted evensong 

Of joy illimited “

The speaker’s depression is not recovered but there is a state of puzzlement.

     He comes into the new century  unable to think about any reason that can make the thrush, a representative of nature with a hope.

   In the last stanza, the poet reveals his lack of faith. There is 

“So little cause for carolings”,  he could not find any reason for the ” joy illimited”.  This joyful song does not relieve the poets depression. The poem does not show any  transformation from the mood of death into joy of optimism, so the contrast of the thrush’s song serves to heighten the poet’s despair. The corpse of the old century never gives way to the birth of  the new. Thus the poem speaks of a bleak future.

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