Hardy’s, “The Darkling Thrush”: Original Publication and Romantic Influences

Thomas Hardy’s poem, “The Darkling Thrush,” originally published with the title, “By the Century’s Deathbed,” first appeared in 1900 in The Graphic, a British illustrated newspaper. This piece gives off a contemplative feel, reflective in the way that a conventional ode and lyrical poem would sound, although, incorporating bleak content and representative of Hardy’s pessimistic mentality. It was believed that the poem was written in 1899, a year before it was published.

The Graphic

Cover Example of The Graphic

My research on this piece led me to discover that the word ‘Darkling’ means darkness or the process of darkening and that this word has a substantial footprint in the history of poetry, formerly used contextually in works by romantic poets such as Keats, Cowper, and Wordsworth. By drawing from romantic terminology/influences and incorporating useful techniques such as powerful alliteration when describing the bleak landscape: growing gloom, his crypt the cloudy canopy,  “The Darkling Thrush” portrays the modernism is Hardy’s poetry.

Another additional piece of archival research I found to be interesting was his own compilation of poetry: Poems of the Past and Present. In this compilation, Hardy also chooses to include “The Darkling Thrush.” In the preface to his collection, Hardy claims that his compilation of works has been written in differing moods and circumstances and at various times. Thus, there appears to be little cohesion or orderly matter to his collection. But for this, he has no regrets. He states in a very artful way that he believes, “unadjusted impression” to have it’s value, and “the road to a true philosophy of life seems to lie in humbly recording diverse readings of its phenomena as they are forced upon us by chance and change.” This statement that prefaces his collection nicely defines a modernist ideal that Hardy holds and that the mind’s thoughts are fleeting, randomly and sporadically, and that it is impossible to cohesively bind them together.




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One Response to Hardy’s, “The Darkling Thrush”: Original Publication and Romantic Influences

  1. Prof VZ says:

    Interesting archival post, Logan, though I think focusing on a single source–what surrounds Hardy’s poem in its original publication context, or really focusing on the preface–would have more fully fulfilled this prompt. As it is, you veer into close reading at times.

    When you do begin reading the poem, I would also try to flesh out more fully what is modernist in his work and what is more romantic or backward looking. You note the romantic echo, which is very interesting, but then you say it is alliteration that makes it more modern, but I’m not sure alliteration does that. Or did you mean it was casting that romantic symbol into such a bleak landscape that had that effect? Your reading of the preface and its emphasis on fleetingness and impressions and the imagination cast against chance and change does more clearly point to something of the modern. Great work overall!

    In terms of formatting, you can wrap the text around the image quite easily and also embed links in the post itself rather than at the start or the bottom. We’ll go over this a bit in class, but if you have a chance to change it before class, please do so.

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