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Editor's Selection of Poems
The Darkling Thrush

by Thomas Hardy

I leant upon a coppice gate, 
When Frost was spectre-gray, 
And Winter's dregs made desolate 
The weakening eye of day. 
The tangled vine-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 me 
The Century's corpse outleant, 
Its crypt the cloudy canopy, 
The wind its death-lament. 
The ancient pulse of germ and birth 
Was shrunken hard and dry, 
And every spirit upon earth 
Seemed fervorless as I. 

At once a voice arose among 
The bleak twigs overhead, 
In a full-throated evensong 
Of joy illimited. 
An ancient thrush, frail, gaunt and small, 
With 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.
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