After the publication of Jude the Obscure in 1896, Thomas Hardy resolved to write no more novels. Between 1898 and his death in 1928, he published a number of books of poetry that together form one of the greatest poetic achievements of the past hundred years in the English language. Gordon Beningfield's pictures in Hardy Country succeeded spendidly in conveying the atmospAfter the publication of Jude the Obscure in 1896, Thomas Hardy resolved to write no more novels. Between 1898 and his death in 1928, he published a number of books of poetry that together form one of the greatest poetic achievements of the past hundred years in the English language. Gordon Beningfield's pictures in Hardy Country succeeded spendidly in conveying the atmosphere and feeling of Hardy's Dorset as it survives today. This new selection of Hardy's poems is illustrated with many of the finest of these pictures, together with others that have been specially undertaken. The Hardy poems, both famous and unfamiliar, illuminated with Beningfield's paintings and drawings, make a beautiful and evocative introduction to the poet's work, a book to read and looked at time and again....
|Title||:||The Darkling Thrush and other Poems by Thomas Hardy|
|Number of Pages||:||183 Pages|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
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The Darkling Thrush and other Poems by Thomas Hardy Reviews
The Darkling Thrush and other poems could be called a literary coffee table book. A large hardback in landscape format, it gives equal prominence to paintings of the English countryside by Gordon Beningfield alongside pastoral poems by Thomas Hardy. It was originally published in 1985.Gordon Beningfield was a renowned and prolific British wildlife artist and broadcaster, and a strong advocate for the protection of the English countryside and its varied wildlife.Abbotsbury Barn He grew up in London, and showed exceptional talent for drawing and painting from a young age, particularly in his drawings of Spitfires! He left school at 15 and was apprenticed as an ecclesiastical artist in St Albans, working with a wide variety of mediums including stained and engraved glass, wood carving, bronze sculpture, gold leaf, watercolours and oils.By the mid-1960s however, his watercolour paintings of countryside subjects were in such demand that he decided to concentrate on this area. He had always enjoyed watching and collecting butterflies, and was an excellent field entomologist. This led to the publication of his first book, “Beningfield’s Butterflies”, which was published in 1978. He followed this with paintings and drawings to illustrate books including “Beningfield’s Countryside” (1980), “Hardy Country” (1983), “Hardy Landscapes” (1990) and “Beningfield’s Woodlands” (1993), and many more. Beningfield loved to explore the English countryside, particularly his beloved Dorset, which forms part of Thomas Hardy’s invented county of Wessex. Much of Beningfield’s finest work was inspired by the quiet coombs and deep ancient woodlands of the small area between Dorchester and Bridport.As well as this book, The Darkling Thrush and other poems (1985), he also illustrated several other poetry books: “Poems of the Countryside” (1987), “Green and Pleasant Land” (1989) and “Poems of the Season” (1992). In 1994 he completed a pictorial autobiography, “Gordon Beningfield, The Artist and His Work”. His last book was “Beningfield’s English Villages” (1996) and he was working on a book of “Beningfield’s Vanishing Song Birds” at the time of his death.Songthrush Song birds are a recurring motif in the accompanying poems. Thomas Hardy is considered to belong to the Naturalist movement, although in many poems here, he fits with the previous Romantic and Enlightenment periods of literature. For instance, he often seems preoccupied with supernatural elements. In these poems he comes across as essentially a Romantic poet, with carefully structured pieces, in which birds seem to express emotion in their songs, which we are intended to perceive as significant. We modern readers tend to interpret bird-song differently. We enjoy the variety, whilst knowing that birdsong is a expression of territorial possession. Birdsong in poetry has never gone out of fashion, but today’s poets content themselves with more descriptive representations. It is doubtful whether a modern poet would depict the songbird’s fortitude—or its resentment of the “crumb-outcaster”, snug in their warm house:“Birds at Winter Nightfall (Triolet)Around the house the flakes fly faster,And all the berries now are goneFrom holly and cotonea-asterAround the house. The flakes fly!— fasterShutting indoors that crumb-outcasterWe used to see upon the lawnAround the house. The flakes fly faster,And all the berries now are gone!”Nor would a modern poet empathise and personify in quite the same way as this:“The Puzzled Winter Game-Birds (Triolet)They are not those who used to feed usWhen we were young—they cannot be -These shapes that now bereave and bleed us?They are not those who used to feed us, -For would they not fair terms concede us?- If hearts can house such treacheryThey are not those who used to feed usWhen we were young—they cannot be!”Both these poems are “triolets”, a stanza poem of eight lines, with a rhyme scheme: AbaAabAB. They were popular in the 19th century. All the poems in this book have a formal structure, yet the author utilises many forms, so there is much variety. There are seventy-four poems here by Thomas Hardy, and all are about nature, the past, memories, the seasons, and country life. They mostly date from the latter part of his life, and feel wistful, regretful; occasionally desolate and alone. They are mostly poignant pieces, however, rather than being deeply pessimistic.“Before and After SummerI Looking forward to the springOne puts up with anything.On this February day,Though the winds leap down the street,Wintry scourgings seem but play,And these later shafts of sleet- Sharper pointed than the first -And these later snows - the worst -Are as a half-transparent blindRiddled by rays from sun behind.IIShadows of the October pineReach into this room of mine:On the pine there stands a bird;He is shadowed with the tree.Mutely perched he bills no word;Blank as I am even is he.For those happy suns are past,Fore-discerned in winter last.When went by their pleasure, then?I, alas, perceived not when.”A Room in Hardy's CottageAfter the publication of his final novel, “Jude the Obscure” in 1896, Thomas Hardy lost heart and resolved to write no more novels. Instead, he concentrated on his first love, poetry. Between 1898 and his death in 1928, he published a number of collections which some critics regard as one of the greatest poetic achievements of the past hundred years in the English language.There are narrative poems here too, and one I like very much is “Tess’s Lament”. Anyone who has read his great penultimate novel “Tess of the D’Urbervilles” will hear the true clear voice of Tess through this poem. I shall include it in the comments, as it is quite long.Tess's Cottage and Evershot Here is another, and one which implies a story. It is poignant certainly, and perhaps has a wry gentle humour. Thomas Hardy was well acquainted with human nature:“At TeaThe kettle descants in a cozy drone,And the young wife looks in her husband’s face,And then at her guest’s, and shows in her ownHer sense that she fills an envied place;And the visiting lady is all abloom,And says there was never so sweet a room.And the happy young housewife does not knowThat the woman beside her was first his choice,Till the fates ordained it could not be so …Betraying nothing in look or voiceThe guest sits smiling and sips her tea,And he throws her a stray glance yearningly.”Here is another, depicting the contrariness of human nature:“From Her in the CountryI thought and thought of thy crass clanging townTo folly, till convinced such dreams were ill,I held my heart in bond, and tethered downFancy to where I was, by force of will.I said: How beautiful are these flowers, this wood,One little bud is far more sweet to meThan all man’s urban shows; and then I stoodUrging new zest for bird, and bush, and tree;And strove to feel my nature brought it forthOf instinct, or no rural maid was I;But it was vain; for I could not see worthEnough around to charm a midge or fly,And mused again on city din and sin,Longing to madness I might move therein!”But most of these poems are snapshots, or word pictures; many deploring the winter chill, and yearning for the Spring. Gordon Beningfield’s illustrations perfectly convey the atmosphere and feeling of Hardy’s Dorset, even as parts of it survive today. Some of these poems are famous; some unfamiliar. Yet together with Beningfield’s paintings and drawings, they make a beautiful and evocative introduction to Thomas Hardy’s work. With the beautiful pastel-coloured delicate images, and the quietly thoughtful poems, it is a book one can dip into, read and look at time after time.Hardy's Birthplace - Higher BockhamptonAnd that title poem? “The Darkling Thrush” is one of Hardy’s most lyrical poems. We sense how tiny and exposed the thrush is, in his bare tree. It reminds me a little of John Keats, and sounds like a hymn. We quickly pick up the steady rhythm and rhyme scheme, and even in the first three lines, we become aware of the sibilance, creating a whispery atmosphere; a breath of wind among the stiff, brittle branches. There is a wealth of imagery in this poem, but perhaps the most significant is the possible identification with its author. Does the thrush here, perhaps represent the poet himself?Thomas Hardy was increasingly frail and bird-like in his appearance, and towards the end of his life, he had discovered an abundance of poetic inspiration. In the 19th Century, songbirds were seen as a symbol of hope. Perhaps, as he moved towards the end of his life, Hardy was essentially becoming less pessimistic in his inner musings. I would like to think so. To end, here is a lovely, uplifting poem:“WeathersThis is the weather the cuckoo likes,And so do I;When showers betumble the chestnut spikes,And nestlings fly;And the little brown nightingale bills his best,And they sit outside at ‘The Traveller’s Rest,’And maids come forth sprig-muslin drest,And citizens dream of the south and west,And so do I.This is the weather the shepherd shuns,And so do I;When beeches drip in browns and duns,And thresh and ply;And hill-hid tides throb, throe on throe,And meadow rivulets overflow,And drops on gate bars hang in a row,And rooks in families homeward go,And so do I.”CuckooOther poems I very much enjoyed in this collection are:“Tess's LamentAn August MidnightThe Caged Thrush Freed and Home Again (Villanelle)The Seasons of her YearLast Week In OctoberThe Harvest-SupperI Watched a BlackbirdThe Orphaned Old Maid”and of course,“The Darkling Thrush”I shall share these in the comments, and hope you enjoy them too.
Nation's Favourite Poems: features in a 1996 nationwide poll compilation.Originally titled By the Century's Deathbed, it was published on New Years Day 1901 in The Times.
Hardy definitely showcases his dissatisfaction with the world in this poem as the speaker does not understand the bird's happiness.