Thursday 14 May 2009

The Other Side of Hope

The Darkling Thrush
- by Thomas Hardy

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.

I received this poem from a friend who visited yesterday. Reading it reminded me of all I love of life - not least of which are poetry itself and the illimited connections of human beings. Not knowing when we are needed, we suddenly appear. And that moment is the right moment. Thank you Simon. The poem is just right. Those last lines! To fling my soul upon the growing gloom is all I ever want to do.

Image: Oil painting by Perveen Tayabali
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