The Darkling Thrush Questions and Answers
by Thomas Hardy

The Darkling Thrush book cover
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In what way is the poem "The Darkling Thrush" an attempt by the speaker or poet to search for meaning in the world?

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Marietta Sadler eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The speaker in the poem is melancholic and "fervourless." He "leans upon a coppice gate" as the sun sets ("The weakening eye of day") and ponders the century that's almost over, as well as the century that's about to begin. The poem was first published in 1900. He is also surrounded by the "dregs" of Winter and images of death (described with the words "haunted," "corpse," and "death-lament") pervade the poem. He metaphorically describes the previous century as a "corpse." The implication is that the speaker has no hope for the coming century and sees no meaning in life.

In the third stanza, however, he hears and then sees an "aged thrush" and this thrush gives him some hope, and seems to offer some meaning. The thrush sings "full-hearted" and "fling(s) his soul / Upon the dying gloom" even though he is "aged" and "frail." This offers the speaker some "blessed Hope," and meaning seems to lie in that hope. The speaker is "unaware" as to where the thrush derives this hope from, but the fact that he has it seems enough to at least temporarily appease the speaker's melancholic mood. The thrush's hope suggests to the speaker that there may be some meaning after all, even if he is "unaware" of what it is.

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