The Darkling Thrush - Sample Essay

In the poem The Darkling Thrush, nature has a predominantly negative effect on the poet. It makes him feel depressed and isolated. Towards the end of the poem the poet’s mood lifts when he sees an “aged thrush, frail, gaunt, and small,” chirping. In the poem Neutral Tones nature is portrayed in a negative way, however, in this poem nature reflects how the poets relationship is failing rather than effects how he is feeling. In The Darkling Thrush the title begins to paint a negative picture. The word “Darkling” means, “shrouded in darkness.

” Neutral Tones also refers to colour in its title. The word “Neutral” implies blandness and colourless emotions. There is a link between the two poems as both colours are unappealing and are surrounded by a dull negative aura. Throughout the poem The Darkling Thrush there is a sense of emptiness, desolation and loneliness, this also applies to Neutral Tones. The poet uses lots of effective language to convey this. In stanza one, Hardy talks about how “… all mankind that haunted nigh / Had sought their household fires.

” This enhances the contrast between the barren outdoors and the warm and inviting households. This also emphasises his loneliness and isolation compared to the rest of mankind. The land is portrayed as barren when the poet mentions ” The tangled bine stems scored the sky like strings of broken lyres,” The stems of climbing plants remind the poet of strings of an old musical instrument. The fact that the poet mentions that the lyres are broken, implies that there is no sound therefore the land is empty and desolate.

This effective metaphor paints a picture of how the poet is feeling. The poet uses pathetic fallacy to match the barren landscape to how the poet feels. The “… wind his death lament… ” encourages the reader to picture an empty landscape where only the sound of the wind is to be heard, whistling a funeral song in mourning of the death of nature. The poet uses a lot of language associated with death to convey how his positive emotions and feelings have died. Hardy uses an effective extended metaphor using the theme of death to convey how his hope has died:

The ancient pulse of germ and birth Was shrunken hard and dry, And every spirit upon the earth Seemed fervourless as I. This metaphor also adds to the desolation of the area, the word “pulse” refers to life which in this case is no where to be seen, the land is dead. Hardy uses some examples of religious language. He compares the landscape to religious things to convey his search for faith. He uses the word “soul” and “evensong” and “carolling” to describe different aspects of the surroundings. Towards the end of the poem it becomes apparent that the poets mood has lifted.

The religious language enhances the fact that the poets mood has lifted and adds a hopeful note. Words such as “joy” and “ecstatic” add a hopeful note. In stanza one “frost” has a capital “F” and in stanza five “Hope” has a capital “H” this draws the reader’s attention to the poets change of mood. In the poem Neutral Tones nature reflects how the poet is feeling. The poet describes how “… the sun was white, as though chidden of God,” this portrays the sun to be weak, in the poem The Darkling Thrush we also see a weak sun it is metaphorically called, “The weakening eye of day.

” This shows how Hardy’s relationship with his partner like the sun, is weak and failing. Like the poem The Darkling Thrush, Neutral Tones also has language associated with death to convey the fact that his relationship is dying. The word “ash” depicts how his relationship is metaphorically going to burn out. The “… ominous bird… ” portrays how the relationship was doomed from the start and was surrounded by a bad omen. This is a contrast to The Darkling Thrush as the little bird in it brings joy to the poet.

In the poem Neutral Tones there are several colours used throughout the poem, in relation to the landscape, such as ash, gray and white, all of which are dull and bland depicting how the poet feels about his relationship. In Neutral Tones the pond represents how the relationship is still, without ripples and nothing flowing. The starving sod, which is emphasised through alliteration, portrays how the relationship is slowly dying, has no nourishment and is no longer fruitful. To conclude, the bird in both poems is of great significance.

The bird in The Darkling Thrush although so old and frail has some underlying “… blessed Hope,” which the poet doesn’t have, yet longs for. The poet conveys that a spiritual force is behind the birds carolling: So little cause for carollings Of such ecstatic sound Was written on terrestrial things Afar or nigh around, The birds beautiful singing contrasts with its bleak surroundings. The bird in Neutral Tones is an “ominous” bird. Therefore, this bird is a contrast to the thrush. Through use of effective language the poet has conveyed in both poems how nature can both reflect and affect someone’s feelings.