The Darkling Thrush Questions and Answers
by Thomas Hardy

The Darkling Thrush book cover
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What are the symbols used in Hardy's "The Darkling Thrush"?

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As a large metaphor for the changing attitudes of the turn of the century (19th to 20th), Thomas Hardy chose the song of “an aged thrush” in the evening light, puffing himself up and singing in spite of the bleak, “desolate landscape”, “the tangled bine-stems” around him.  Hardy finds “blessed Hope” for the century about to come.  By going to the Romantic standard of bird-songs reawakening the poet’s connection with the world (nightingales, meadowlarks, etc.), Hardy is finding promise in an otherwise harsh end-of-century view.  The narrator, pausing to lean “upon a coppice gate”, hears the “darkling thrush” in the gloom and the sound renews his energy, his Hope.  The natural landscape, the bird’s song, and the renewal of a connection with the future, are all linked to the now waning Romantic ideal, as the 20th century’s technological and mechanical features start to reveal themselves.

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