The Darkling Thrush

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
   Like strings of broken lyres,
And all mankind that haunted nigh
   Had sought their household fires.

The land’s sharp features seemed to me
   The Century’s corpse outleant,
Its crypt the cloudy canopy,
   The wind its death-lament.
The ancient pulse of germ and birth
   Was shrunken hard and dry,
And every spirit upon earth
Seemed fervorless as I.

At once a voice arose among
   The bleak twigs overhead,
In a full-hearted evensong
   Of joy illimited.
An aged thrush, frail, gaunt and small,
   With blast-beruffled plume,
Had chosen thus to fling his soul
   Upon the growing gloom.

So little cause for carolings
   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
Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew,
   And I was unaware.


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