The Darkling Thrush Question and Answers: Theme of Nature


The Darkling Thrush: theme of Nature 

.               image source: Google


Question : How has Hardy depicted nature in his poem  “The Darkling Thrush”?

Answer:   In  ” The Darkling Thrush “, Thomas Hardy has depicted nature as indifferent to the existence of mankind and its suffering. The poem is about the death of hope in the nineteenth century for having lost the faith in no other benevolent force.

       Hardy has used nature and its elements to depict the passing of nineteenth century along with the dark world full of uncertainty. The death of hope and loss of faith is depicted through a barren landscape in a wintry, frosty evening.

      At the beginning of the poem, the speaker describes himself as standing at the entrance of a small wood ” a coppice “. The first of the metaphor used by Hardy to suggest death is the adjective used to describe the frost – 

“spectre – grey”  i.e. as grey as a ghost  means it is not just grey but ghostly grey with the cold feeling of death. 

“The weakening eye of day”,  the sun sinking towards horizon, has none of the sun’s usual connotation of brightness and warmth instead it depicts the gloominess and dullness.

The ” winter – dregs ” – the leftover of winter, the “frost” or falling snow make the landscape to appear desolate or deserted. The approach of night and darkness,  further the idea of death already implied by the reference to winter and the “spectre – grey”  frost.

       As the speaker looks up through the leafless and tangled bine stems, they looked like strings of broken lyre pointing at the sky. The broken lyre which can not produce music this suggests the absence of harmony and therefore of joy in the speaker’s vision of life.

       The poet has given an implied contrast between the warmth of the household fires and the cold and loneliness of the speaker.

” And all mankind that haunted nigh

      Had sought their household fire “

        In the second stanza, the land’s sharp features have been compared with the “Century’s corpse”.since nothing is growing the fields are bare and the frost is covering everything and the landscape looks like a corpse. It is the time of the end of the century which is metaphorically implied as ” the death of the old world” hence the corpse belongs to the dead old century. The poet has developed the image further by comparing the “cloudy canopy” to the cover of the century’s tomb and the shrill sound of the cold wind to a “death lament”.

               Here the wintry setting symbolises the loss of hope where the hope is generally associated  with the spring. He says – 

The ancient pulse of germ and birth

   Was shrunken hard and dry.”

    As the seeds germinate in spring, the life force, the pulse of life responsible for germination of seeds and giving birth to new life are shrunken  to hard and dry in this cold winter. The poet calls human being on this earth, including himself “spirits”  which have become “fervourless” or lack passion for life.

       Thus Hardy has deromanticised the nature by taking away even the capacity for renewal. While the Romantics like W. Wordsworth, often depicted nature as awe – inspiring and full of meaning. Hardy’s speaker, finds no hope, no inspiration in the process of natural world. Even the Thrush, the harbinger of hope, is ‘ aged’ and on its last song. 

        The entire poem has portrayed a bleak picture of nature and the gloom is emphasised far more than the joy.

    Inspite of this gloomy weather conditions, the poem ends with alone of hopefulness with the melody of a thrush which has probably found a way out to be happy in the distressed time too. 

3 thoughts on “The Darkling Thrush Question and Answers: Theme of Nature”

Leave a Comment

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

Scroll to Top