The Darkling Thrush Topics for Further Study
by Thomas Hardy

The Darkling Thrush book cover
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Topics for Further Study

(Poetry for Students)

Compare the attitude of the speaker in Hardy’s poem towards the new century with your own attitude towards the beginning of the twentyfirst century. What similarities and differences do you see? Discuss this as a class.

In groups, compose a poster based on Hardy’s poem. You will have to decide what to put in and what to leave out from what he describes. Feel free to use abstractions in your depiction. Hang the poster on the wall, and then discuss with your class the choices you made in composing it.

Write a short essay exploring the influence of romanticism on Hardy, who was a Victorian poet. How are his poems about nature different from John Keat’s, William Wordsworth’s, or Percy Bysshe Shelley’s?

Compose a short essay comparing and contrasting Hardy’s poem with Keats’s “Ode to a Nightengale” and Emily Dickinson’s “Hope Is the Thing with Feathers.” Why do all of these poets choose song birds as central images in their poems? How do the different styles of these poets qualify the role of the songbird in the poems?

Write a poem or a story about a time when you were depressed or feeling very sad, and include what happened to change your mood (assuming it has changed). Be sure to include at least two “nonce” words in your poem or story. Nonce words bear a resemblance to currently used words or phrases. Hardy often created nonce words, like “outleant” (lean out), for specific poems or stories.

Write another stanza for the poem that takes place a year later. Follow the poem’s meter and rhyme scheme exactly. Take turns reading your poems to the class, and then discuss the differences among them.