Based on the reading of "The Darkling Thrush" by Thomas Hardy, what generalization would you make about Hardy's attitude about important dates on the calendar?
a)they provide an important chance to evaluate the world in a decisive way
b)although they can provide an opportunity for evaluation and reflection, the conclusions drawn at such times are no better than any others
c)what people call progress is actually overwhelmingly negative
d)progress is indisputably positive
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(a) They provide an important chance to evaluate the world in a decisive way.
Poetry, above all else, is an experience. As such, there is always something of one's own experience that the reader brings to the poem as he/she meets that experience of the poet. Thus, in one interpretation of Hardy's "Darkling Thrush," critic Charles E. May writes that Hardy's thrush evokes the nightingale of John Keats, a bird which is a species of thrush. May further contends that the parallels between the birds indicate that in a purposeful way Hardy has inverted Keats’s romantic view of nature, creating an ironic rejection of this view:
The focus in “Ode to a Nightingale” is on the plenitude of nature and the speaker’s limitations in participating in it. In “The Darkling Thrush,” the focus is on the vacuity of nature and the speaker’s courage to exact “a full look at the Worst” and reject such a participation. Even a cursory look reveals that proportionately much more of Hardy’s poem focuses on “So little cause for carolings” than it does on the caroling itself.
As the speaker leans upon the "coppice gate" in the "spectre-grey" of the end of the nineteenth century, the man who so loved agrarian England looks with pessimism to the twentieth century with its soul-robbing industrialization. Symbolic of the end of the century, the "aged thrush, frail, gaunt, and small" offers little hope with his "full-hearted evensong":
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.
In the final line, the speaker remarks that there is "little cause for carolings" and he can think of no reason for the thrush's "happy good-night." Yet, the bird's song in the both literal and figurative darkness makes the speaker wonder if a new age may, after all, offer some "Blessed hope." Indeed, the turn of the century is an opportune time to evaluate the world decisively.
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