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When Hardy speaks the poem he is leaning on a wooden gate looking at the darkening countryside. As Hardy looks across the countryside, the dark outlines of trees and sticks seem to stand out. In the second stanza, Hardy imagines that the dark outline of hills and rocks form the shape of a giant corpse laid out for burial. Because it is the last day of the year and century, Hardy makes a connection between the shape of the landscape and a corpse at a wake. The wind blowing through the harp-like stems and trees makes funeral music, a bit like a creepy harp at a funeral service. Suddenly, in the third stanza, at this gloomy moment a frail old thrush begins to sing its sweet song. The poet imagines that the bird through its song is throwing its soul out to the spreading darkness. In the last stanza, Hardy claims the surrounding dark land provides little reason for this outburst of joyful singing. The poet is in a pleasantly sad mood as he leans alone on the gate watching the century fade into darkness. Full Stops and Commas – Hardy places a full stop at the end of every stanza and either a full stop, a semi-colon or comma to form a break at line four in each stanza. Contrast [difference] – Hardy contrasts himself as a depressed human to the joyful thrush. Hyperbole [Exaggeration] – Hardy exaggerates the bleak mood by pretending that the earth is a corpse. Tone – The tone throughout the poem is gloomy, like when Hardy compares the landscape to a corpse and when he refers to the ‘growing gloom’. Repetition – The fact that there is regular rhyme helps to emphasise the poet’s feeling that everything is speeding towards death.
Assonance [similar vowel sound repetition] – In the first stanza a series of long ‘e’ sounds in various words creates a sad music that matches the meaning of the poem.
Alliteration [repetition of consonant sounds at the start of nearby words] – The ‘b’ in ‘blast’ and ‘bird’ links the bird and the strengthening wind. Sibilance [repetition of ‘s’ sound] – Note how the ‘s’ sounds in ‘cause for carolings of such ecstatic sound’ creates a soft music that suits the bird. It is at the end of a day, year and century that the poem is set. The poet mourns for the death of the century because he wrote this poem on Dec.
The poet is not able to find a reason why the bird is so much happy so he concludes that only God might know the reason. The words used and images created in the second stanza help us think that the landscape itself is dead and barren, just as the poet’s perspective is barren and joyless.
The poet means to establish that even the most hopeless situation might offer a ray of hope.
The poem was written by Hardy at the close of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th.
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As part of our policy, we encourage the young boys and girls to learn on screens rather than paper. Lines 7-8 –‘And every spirit upon earth seemed favourless as I’. The last line of the first stanza and the second stanza are concerned with men.
Lines 1-2 – ‘So little cause for carolings of such ecstatic sound’. This confuses the poet as there is no good reason for the bird to be singing. Evoking hope too easily can feel kind of glib or damp; saying there is none, though the opposite, can feel sentimental in a similar way.
It describes the speaker of the poem looking out across a barren, wooden landscape on one cold evening in winter. By making success, by having loving friends, by earning enough to live, by taking the family for an outing, by buying a new car, by passing a difficult exam, etc. Hardy shows he is alone by claiming that the people who had been out and about before sunset have all gone home to the comfort of their open house fires. Hardy uses a simile of a broken lyre or harp to give us a picture of the leafless bine-stems or bare trunks that look black against the western sky. He also contrasts himself, the lonesome poet, to everyone else who has gone indoors to enjoy the fires. In another sense the rhyme and other sound effects create a poetic music that echoes both the wind and the thrush in different parts of the poem. This soft sound is in contrast to the harsh sound used by Hardy to bring to mind the bleak wintry setting: ‘blast-beruffled’. With the stems of the tangled bine plants swinging in the air, as if they are trying to rise to the sky, the poet compares it with the broken strings of a lyre.
The sun is going to set and the light is dim.People who had gone for works in the morning have just returned.
We hope to eliminate the use of paper by providing screenotes which will slowly have a great impact on deforestation. The poem takes place sometime in winter and starts out with the poet leaning on a gate which leads to small forest. The use of the word ‘scored’ suggests that all the poet sees is destruction when he looks at the ‘bine-stems’.
This insinuates that it is late as any normal person at this time would be inside, by the fire in their home, keeping warm. The poet states that the land is a map of everything that has happened over the course of the century. The alliteration of ‘c’ as well as ‘Century’s corpse’ intensifies the atmosphere of gloom and deathliness. The ‘pulse of germ and birth’ may mean that any throbbing heartbeat of germination is dead (‘was shrunken hard and dry’).
This line means that every spirit on the planet seems as lifeless as the poet, as hard and dry as the shrunken pulses of germ and birth.
This gives the impression that the thrush is giving up its life to fight the gloomy environment. Also, the sibilance (repetition of ‘s’ and ‘c’ sounds) creates a soft music, just like what the bird is singing. This proves that the thrush is happy and the poet may be a little comforted by the thrush’s song. The rhyme scheme is regular and the lines are structured as tetrameter followed by trimester (an 8 syllable line followed by a 6 syllable line).
The sudden hopeful song of an aged thrush, however, causes him to question his pessimistic mood and the hope that he is not aware of. He personifies the wind because he imagines the sound it makes in the trees is a funeral song or lament. Hardy contrasts the thrush in the tree with its spiritual music to dead things in the ground, ‘terrestrial things’. Yet it has joy in its heart. The poet imagines that the bird through its song is throwing its soul out to the spreading darkness.
It is that depressing time of year when all is gloomy, nothing to look forward to except long grey dark nights and the chill of frost.
It is dusk on the last day of the nineteenth century and the atmosphere is dead and motionless. These two lines confirm that this poem is taking place in the depth of winter and so it is very grey.
The use of the simile which compares the ‘bine-stems’ like ‘strings of broken lyres’ indicates that there is no happiness or music. By personifying ‘Century’, the poet gives it human-like characteristics as if the century itself is dead and the corpse is left behind as the land that the poet is observing (this poem was written at the end of the 18th century). There is enjambment in the first four lines of this stanza which draws the attention of the reader to the next line.
The use of the word ‘terrestrial’ suggests that the poet believes this is bird is not from Earth as it is flinging its soul to the ghostly atmosphere.
This makes the poem flow with a certain beat, just like the beat of the song the bird is singing. Suddenly, when the thrush is introduced in the third stanza, the bird brings the poem to life by singing.
The poem reminds us that – be happy at present because the next moment is going to bring you something happy! There is a contrast between the unhappy sad mood of ‘shrunken hard and dry’ and the joyful feeling aroused by the ‘ecstatic sound’ of the singing thrush. The poet uses the words ‘evensong’ and ‘carolings’ as metaphors to suggest that listening to the thrush is a religious experience. An evensong is a service of evening prayers psalms and so this introduces religious themes into the play. It’s strange for the speaker as there is no reason for the bird to be cheerful at such a time. The metaphor of the ‘broken lyre’ expresses the idea that humans are too sad and depressed to make any more music. There is a striking contrast between the song of the frail bird and the image of the broken lyre, suggesting human music has ceased. In the last two stanzas the tone becomes hopeful due to words such as ‘joy’, ‘ecstatic’, ‘happy’ and ‘hope’. Hardy becomes aware for the first time that evening of a new hope of things to come. He realises that there is a reason to hope, without knowing what that reason is.
The speaker then realises that there is some hope that the thrush is aware of but he is not, giving him hope for a better century.
It is clear that the thrush alone senses this hope and expresses it. This is probably nature’s way of reminding him that spring always follows winter.
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