Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Some Blessed Hope

The Darkling Thrush
By Thomas Hardy (1902)

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 be
   The Century’s corpse outleant,
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
   Seemed fervourless 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,
   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.

This was written in 1900, as a scared look at the dawn of the twentieth century.  Mr. Hardy was right to be scared, the twentieth century was a horrifying one in many ways, as the rise of "isms" led to the death of millions.  And yet, there were some wonderful things that came along, too: the landing on the moon, the amazing progress in medicine, and the invention of the computer and other technology.

Christmas was even better than I’d hoped.  I got lots of really neat gifts, and my own giving seemed to be unusually welcome.  An example: Tanya stitched and framed my favorite literary jest, from Fred Allen: “I don’t know why anyone would write a book when for a few dollars she could buy one.”  How often, when struggling with a plot, I’ve sighed that!

Today I begin the research into a gay wedding.  It’ll be the subplot of the next novel and therefore it’s safe to begin working on it.  Godwin and Rafael’s wedding – Goddy wants wild extravagance, Rafael wants dignity and decorum.  Who will win?


Anonymous said...

That might be a good title for your book -- if you can get permission from the estate.

Betty Hechtman said...

It's always nicer when things turn out better than you expected. The stitched gift sounds perfect.

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