The Darkling Thrush Question and Answers : theme of despair of hopelessness


The Darkling Thrush. : the Theme of Despair of  Hopelessness

Image source: Google


Question : “The Darkling Thrush” is a poem of despair of hopelessness. Do you agree ?

Answer:  The  main theme of “The Darkling Thrush “written by Thomas Hardy is despair and isolation.

         In this meditative poem, the poet describes the dying of the old world at the turn of the century. The poet feels that the Industrial Revolution has brought about several changes in the  society, polity, economy and religious beliefs. He feels that all has changed, civilisation has decayed and he does not know what will replace it. This feeling brought a sense of hopelessness and despair in the poem.

    Hardy felt terribly depressed about the ways the Industrial Revolution destroyed man’s relationship with nature. He highly valued humankind’s relationship with nature, and believed it superior to man’s  relationship with technology and machinery.

      As the technology and industrialisation Influenced the human society, Hardy felt that humanity was lost. He can see nature’s suffering. Everywhere he looks, the natural world appears to be dying . He yearns for that simpler, truer world and seeks to recapture something that is lost but old century is dead and the outlook for the new century is bleak.

     All his feeling of despair and hopelessness, Hardy put into his poem” The Darkling Thrush “. The poem begins with the speaker leaning on a ” coppice gate “ which is the symbol of beginning of new century.  The bitter hopelessness of a cold winter’s evening are stressed by the imagery : “Frost”,   ” spectre – grey”, “dregs”, “desolate”, “weakening eye”, ” broken ” and haunted  are unified and emphasised by their suggestion of cold, weakness and death. 

         There are plenty of heavy, gloomy “g” sounds  – “gate”,”grey”,”dregs”.   Then there are hard “c” sounds in stanza two – “corpse”, ” crypt “, ” cloudy canopy ” – which evoke the funeral march and the burial of the personified  “century”.

           The speaker was feeling gloomy and desolated and tired on a barren landscape on a wintry, frosty evening. The frost made the landscape ” spectre – grey” which mean not just gloomy grey but ghostly grey -with a feeling of death. This adds an element of horror in the landscape. The “winter dregs”made the “weakening eye of the day” or the setting of the sun more desolate. At this time tangled bine stems appears like broken strings of lyres which suggests a lack of harmony and joy in the atmosphere. The poet is feeling desolated and dejected as he was standing all alone looking at the barren cold landscape devoid of the people outside their houses. All the mankind were seeking the warmth in front of household fire, inside their houses.

      The poet compare the passing of nineteenth century with the death of old world. The century’s end seems to have made the regular winter more bitter this time. Tjhe cloudy sky seems to be covering  “The century’s corpse”. The shrill sound of wind resembles the death to life pulse which gives birth to life seems to be weakened with cold. The seed of life instead of germinating, seems to be “shrunken hard  and dry”.

At this very moment the poet says – 

” And every spirit upon earth

    Seemed fervourless as I”

Every spirit on this earth seems similarly desolate as the speaker himself. 

       Suddenly the speaker hears the “full hearted” voice of a bird rising above the “bleak twigs”, he looks up to find a haggered, old thrush ” frail, gaunt and small ” singing loudly. 

       Despite of the bird’s “blast – beruffled’  appearance means its feathers ruffled by the wind it sings a joyful song   – “In a full hearted evensong

         Of joy illimited”

The speaker wonders, why the bird would choose this gloomy moment to “fling his soul” upon the growing gloom. Where there is nothing to be happy about then why this poor bird produce such an “ecstatic sound”.

          The image of the thrush  – ” aged “, ” gaunt ” and  “frail” could not brought in much hope for the speaker but symbolise the decay of something good. Then finally he found 

“Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew

      And I was unaware.”

      He says when there was no real reason nearby or far away for his song , it may be some “blessed Hope” which was a reason to be happy at all that the speaker was unaware of. 

       Thus”The Darkling Thrush ” creates a feeling of hopelessness and despair in the reader.

   See more click here

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top