[Vision2020] Less Hopeful Fiber?

Tbertruss at aol.com Tbertruss at aol.com
Sun Oct 16 22:58:22 PDT 2005

Melynda et. al.

Yes, I understand your interpretation.  Perhaps your view fits the facts of 
the poem more accurately than what I suggested.  Nonetheless, when Hardy wrote:

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, 
In 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. 

He appears to be recognizing or experiencing the possibility, or some form of 
the reality, as he hears the birds singing, of positive states of being 
including "a full-hearted evensong, Of joy illimited," of "ecstatic sound" and a 
"blessed Hope," that perhaps the thrush embodies in a manner that makes his 
despair more intense, as you suggest, if we assume he is alienated from what 
positive states of being he describes regarding the thrush, or perhaps the 
identification with the "ecstatic sound" and these other emotions and states of being 
the thrush embodies inspires Hardy to contemplate that his lack of awareness 
of these states of being does not mean they are not possible, even in the bleak 
"dead" winter landscape. Indeed, we could read that Hardy is experiencing 
some of these more positive states of being as he may identify with the birds 
song and what he imagines it embodies.  And the contrast between the positive 
states he associates with the birds song, to the gloom and deathly winter 
landscape could cut two ways: more despair, perhaps, but also a realization that 
inspiration is possible even in desolation, or that Nature can find joy in the 
most desolate conditions.

Perhaps my view that Hardy may identify with the birds song in a manner that 
allows Hardy to himself feel what he imagines the birds song represents is way 
off the mark.

But a total depressive pessimist writing this poem might dismiss the thrush's 
actions as vain, pointless, random, perhaps the mindless utterings of a 
"robot-like" bird that knows nothing of these positive states of being that Hardy 
appears to indicate the thrush may know something about: indeed, Hardy declares 
the thrush's song to be "his happy good-night air." 

I find it hard to reject the interpretation that Hardy found some solace and 
inspiration in the birds song, despite his ending comment that he was not 
aware of what "blessed hope" the bird may have expressed.  But then I am just 
winging it here, because I know little about Hardy or what interpretation of this 
poem fits the orientation of his creative work.

There are too many "positive" words in the poem for me to view it from a 
wholly pessimistic interpretation.

I am no doubt projecting my love for bird song: Love is blind, as we all 

Ted Moffett
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