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New Criticism Reading of The Darkling Thrush

New Criticism Reading of The Darkling Thrush - New...

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New Criticism Reading of The Darkling Thrush The title of this poem, The Darkling Thrush , is in and of itself a paradox. Thrush referred to, at this time period, a wide variety of small Old World songbirds. These small birds have a wonderful array of color in their plumage yet Hardy refers to his thrush as a darkling. The poem portrays the epic struggle between life and death beginning with cold, dark wintry images, observing a lack of faith in renewal and emphasizing death as both imminent and permanent. Darkling is indicative of darkness, death or despair. A literal movement in grammatical structure as well as a figurative shift in both word choice and tone begins in the third stanza where the thrush is introduced. The thrush is representative of life existing in the face of darkness or death through nature. The title is a first glimpse of the struggle in this piece between light and dark, life and death, hope and despair. The eternal struggle between life and death is an ongoing unresolved conflict, which Hardy recognizes and is apparently trying to reconcile in his text. In the first stanza Hardy mentions, “strings of broken lyres,” indicating a death of music through an inability to create it. Music is symbolically the sound of joy and Hardy uses this idea to convey the hopeless left in the void where music once lived. Paradoxically he creates a movement towards hope in stanza three with the introduction of the thrush. The small bird is a symbol of life and his literal and figurative value seems to be fully realized with commencement of his song. After so many images of darkness, leading the reader to despair of all hope for renewal or rebirth, the lines, “In full-hearted evensong/ Of joy illimited,” indicate a reason to again have faith through the rebirth of music and
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optimism. Opposites continue throughout the poem, revealing the tension that is the
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