Background The Darkling Thrush - heading

I leant upon a coppice gate

     When Frost was spectre-grey,

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.