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Analysis of the Poem: The Darkling Thrush

Categories: Poems

Speaker: The speaker in the first two stanzas is portrayed as pessimistic and dark, but this changed in the two last stanzas. In any case, the speaker is conveyed to have strong feelings for nature. Form: Rhyming scheme is clearly visible giving to poem a rhythm. The 3rd stanza’s rhyming scheme seems to have been modified, if not a little disturbed having a not as good phonetic ending at the end of each stanza conveying the speaker’s disturbance and surprise at the appearance of the thrush.


L.1 the coppice became a gate conveying that it’s not in its natural state, humans could have modified it. L2: “When Frost was spectre-grey” a spectre/ghost is something dangerous, menacing, conveying Frost is dangerous, and cold is dangerous, deadly. The Frost being as cold as a ghost. L2-3: Frost and Winter with capital letters, this personifies them.  Cold, winter, death theme introduced. They will be the two “main characters “of the poem.

L3: “Winter’s dregs” winters residue, conveys the snow. L3-4: “Winter’s dregs made desolate, The weakening eye of day” The snow is taking over the day, dark over light. “Eye of day” conveys the sun symbolizing light, happiness, warmth, is being taken over by “Winter’s dreg’s” darkness, snow, cold. L5-6: “The tangled bine-stems scored the sky, like strings of broken lyres” this simile compares plants that are reaching for the sky, like broken lyres, lyres are instruments symbolizing usually illusion, and mostly the instruments of the gods.

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Lyres are therefor in the sky with the gods, and the plants are trying to do the same, but will never reach it “Broken Lyres” or broken “illusions”.

This simile conveys somehow the sky in contrast to earth, heaven, and hell that plants are trying to flee “score the sky”. L7-8: “And all mankind that haunted nigh” all the men that were hunting close by, “Had sought their household fires” had gone back to their house by the fire for warmth. Winter, or death, is more powerful than men with guns. L9: “The land’s sharp features seemed to be” sharp here conveys the cold. This verse introduces the nature or “land” as main theme of the stanza. L9-10 “The land’s sharp features seemed to be” the lands cold features seemed to be “The Century’s corpse outleant” the Century’s dead body. This metaphor connects the two verses and develops them further in doing so. The land’s “features” are now clearer to convey member’s like body members.

This metaphor also connects “the land” to the “Century’s dead body” the speaker here could also convey his thoughts that our present Century is dying. L11-12: “His crypt the cloudy canopy” This verse conveys the transformation of the “cloudy” canopy, the unclear, mysterious conveying menace canopy (human being afraid of the unknown) into a crypt, chamber for the dead. Once again the death (here of nature specifically) is here conveyed. This continues the metaphor of the dying land by “his” asserting a personification of the land. This verse transforms the “cloudy canopy” into the chamber of death “crypt” of the land. Finally, to finish the portraying image of a dead body in a crypt, the image of a funeral is clearly conveyed through the 12th verse. “The wind his death-lament.” This image portrays the wind as the relative, or witness, grieving the land’s death.

L13-14: “The ancient pulse of germ and birth” the verse bring through the image of a “pulse” of life, that is now no more “ancient” used to be, but no longer is. “Was shrunken hard and dry” this continuation of the verse beforehand confirms the death of the “pulse of germ and birth”, of life, that was “shrunken hard and dry” that was killed by winter. The use of “shrunken hard and dry” contrasting “the pulse of germ and birth” is very well chosen. The pulse of germ and birth is something soft, happy, promising, whereas the use of “shrunken” shrinks the promising life, turns it into something hard and dry. The contrast of life and death is portrayed here through nature.

L15-16: “And every spirit upon earth seemed fervourless as I” This conveys the desperation and hopelessness that seems to be shared by “every spirit upon this earth” the whole world seems to have no more hope for better days. With these two last verses, it leaves the second stanza on sorrowful “fervourless” tone. L16-17: “At once a voice arose among the bleak twigs overhead” The 3rd stanza starts off with an element of surprise, raising the curiosity of the reader creating suspense of who this might be, or what. This also somehow creates a certain feeling of hope. The 3rd stanza also starts of unlike the other first stanzas through hearing, and not seeing. Therefor the images that were up to now conveyed through the eyes, is not conveyed through the ears.

L19-20: “In full-hearted evensong of joy unlimited” this element brings about hope and joy which was not brought through so far. L21-22: “An aged thrush, frail, gaunt, and small, in blast-beruffled plume” The suspense is now broken, we find out what this element of surprise and joy is, a bird, a “Thrush” like indicated in the poem’s title. The sense goes back to seeing now, and the bird is portrayed as “frail, gaunt, and small” in contrast to the merciless powerful cold winter and death that was conveyed beforehand transforming an entire land into corpse, and yet this bird is full of joy and life unlike “every spirit on earth”. The bird’s appearance is further more explicit in verse 22 “In blast-beruffled plume” This feeds further the contrast between the bird and the harsh winter. Indeed the thrush is not only portrayed as markedly frail, but the sharp wind has ruffled his feathers, and we can imagine the tail-feathers blown nearly inside-out by the sharp blast.

L23-24: These verses are very important as they mark another contrast between the bird’s appearance, and “character”. Indeed this feeble blast-beruffled bird that was conveyed earlier on “had chosen thus to fling his soul upon the growing gloom” This small bird is like a brave small weak, and yet brave soldier “flinging” his soul into the midst of a battle, “upon a growing gloom” that menaces to kill him at any moment. The 3rd stanza brings through an element of hope and surprise.

L25-29: The senses are now changed into hearing again as the speaker describes the “carolings” of the little bird that seems to light up “terrestrial things “afar or nigh around” (near or far) into this growing gloom that the speaker doesn’t seem to understand.

L30-32: The final 3 verses of the last stanza are very important as they will change the view of the speaker. Indeed the “happy good night air” of this bird “some blessed Hope” which is conveyed to be brought through to the speaker by this thrush “whereof he knew, and I was unaware” The speaker here conveys the relief and comfort and wisdom that was brought to him through the natural wisdom and bravery as well as optimism of this feeble and delicate, yet brave, and tenacious thrush.

On this the poem ends on a good note full of hope and optimism for the future.

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Analysis of the Poem: The Darkling Thrush. (2016, Nov 27). Retrieved from

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