Ah, the wonder of those iPhone apps that make a sort of etching of a rose photo in seconds! From my garden and touched by electronic magic. It is also always interesting to change an image to black and white. You see what you might not have seen before. In this case, the details of the leaves become more important.
We are still browsing in Understanding Poetry (see previous post) this is one of the Hardy poems treated in that book on pages 345 and 346.
The Darkling Thrush
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.
This might be one of the bleakest, most shocking end of a poem ever! I will never forget the shock I felt the first time I read it. Thomas Hardy is one of our very great English poets. We can also be reminded by the vocabulary of this poem of the wonderful, combinatory language available to English poets! Some of these words we do not regularly use, but because of their relationships to more common words, they are easy to comprehend in the context of the poem.