Verse > Anthologies > > Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. > The Oxford Book of Victorian Verse
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Arthur Quiller-Couch, comp.  The Oxford Book of Victorian Verse.  1922.
 
The Darkling Thrush
By Thomas Hardy (1840–1928)
 
I LEANT upon a coppice gate
    When Frost was spectre-gray,
And Winter’s dregs made desolate
    The weakening eye of day.
The tangled bine-stems scored the sky        5
    Like strings of broken lyres,
And all mankind that haunted nigh
    Had sought their household fires.
 
The land’s sharp features seem’d to be
    The Century’s corpse outleant,        10
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        15
    Seem’d fervourless as I.
 
At once a voice arose among
    The bleak twigs overhead
In a full-hearted evensong
    Of joy illimited;        20
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 carollings        25
    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        30
Some blessèd Hope, whereof he knew
    And I was unaware.
 
 
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