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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Happy song Sweet Hope

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Happy Song, Sweet Hope


¨DThe Contrast of ¡°The Darkling Thrush¡± and ¡°Ode to a Nightingale¡±


��¡¢ Introduction


Thomas Hardy¡¯s ¡°The Darkling Thrush¡± is one of famous lyrical. It was written on Dec.1, 18, the last day of the 1th century. The end of a year and the end of a century arouses in all men deep and often sad reflections and the external world merges with the poet¡¯s melancholy. The poem is a moving record of a man¡¯s tragic vision of ¡°terrestrial things¡±. The vocabulary and imagery of the poem are directed mainly toward creating a sense of the bleakness and sadness of the winter landscape. Although it is sad in tone about the background the poem carries some hope towards future because ¡°a voice arose among/ The bleak twigs overhead/ In a full-hearted evensong/ Of joy illimited¡±. The voice is an aged thrush¡¯s happy song. The song of the thrush is a sign of hope in this desolate time. The thrush is the symbol of the mature. So the hope is rendered to the speaker, which represents the human beings, by nature. And the aged thrush is one of main images in the poem.


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In English poetry, many poem¡¯s main images are birds. For example P.B.Shelley¡¯s ¡°To a Sky-Lark¡±, its main image is the bird, sky-lark; John Keats¡¯s ¡°Ode to a Nightingale¡±, its main image is the bird, nightingale; and W.B.Yeats¡¯s ¡°The Wild Swans at Coole¡±, its main image is the bird, wild swans. All of these birds image in the different poems have different symbolic meaning. However they have some common features. The paper tries to analysis the same and difference between Thomas Hardy¡¯s ¡°The Darkling Thrush¡± and John Keats¡¯s ¡°Ode to a Nightingale¡±.


According to ¡°The Advanced Learner¡¯s Dictionary of Current English¡±, the thrush is ¡°sorts of song-bird, especially the kind called song-thrush¡±; the nightingale is ¡°small, reddish-brown migratory bird that sings sweetly by night as well as by day¡±. From these two definitions of the bird we can see the birds themselves have some common features. That is, both of them are good at singing although in the poems these two birds have different symbolic meaning.


¶þ¡¢ The Contrast of ¡°The Darkling Thrush¡± and ¡°Ode to a Nightingale¡±.


1¡¢ The contrast of two poem¡¯s scene


In ¡°The Darkling Thrush¡±, the scene is desolate. The mood of the speaker is melancholy. ¡°Frost was spectre-gray, / And winter¡¯s dregs made desolate / The weakening eye of day.¡± Obviously ¡°The Darkling Thrush¡± is a poem about solidarity with nature. However, unlike Keats¡¯s unseen, ecstatic, blithe bird, the thrush in the poem is visible and ordinary. His description ¡°An aged thrush, frail, gaunt, and small, / In blast-beruffled plume¡± avoids the Romantic imagery of Keats¡¯s. Apparently a modern lament for the death of God , and of nature ( the sky is both the landscape¡¯s and the century¡¯s crypt ), the poem records the end of place and time. Set at the turning point between the old century and the new century, the awful scene developed in the image patterns of the first two stanzas is mirrored in the consciousness of the poet himself. The century¡¯s outleant corpse makes a parallel with the poet who ¡°leant upon a coppice gate¡±, ¡°the weakening eye of day¡± creates a metaphor for the poet¡¯s darkened vision, while the tangled bine-stems scoring the sky ¡° Like strings of broken lyres¡± is a further image to illustrate the desolate scene.


The poem ¡°The Darkling Thrush¡± is held between the world of human meanings and consolations and the bleakly inhospitable winter scene. The thrush¡¯s song is the climax of this whole tendency and the thrush itself, in his shriveled and unkempt physical presence , is the leading image despite the desolate scene. The bird¡¯s song involves absent-mindedness at odds with the scene around. And the song transmits a sense of happiness that is both real and insistent, as well as unsustainable within this surrounding physical environment at the end of the century. However the elements of joy in ¡°The Darkling Thrush¡± is not to deny the prevailingly somber mood of the scene in the poem, nor the dominant tenor of its conclusions and imagery. Skepticism and age cannot attain to any ¡°blessed hope¡±. And the only lyres in the poem are broken, ones made up by the tangled bine-stems. While there is in the scene nothing to endorse the inconvenient and inconsequential promptings of joy that arise from the bird¡¯s ¡°carolings¡±. The interesting fact is that the poem appears equally to encompass the contrary truth that these promptings are irresistible.


Unlike ¡°The Darkling Thrush¡± in which the bird sings the happy song and herald sweet hope despite the desolate winter atmosphere, John Keats¡¯s ¡°Ode to a Nightingale¡± describe the beautiful scene. However in the poem the speaker¡¯s mood is similar to the speaker¡¯s in ¡°The Darkling Thrush¡±. At first the speaker in the poem says ¡°My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains¡±. It¡¯s the speaker¡¯s mood. He is joy at hearing the nightingale¡¯s song, which, however, pains him. Then the poem describes human being¡¯s pain in third chapter. The poem relates in human world there is ¡°the weariness, the fever, and the fret¡±. An in human world ¡°men sit and hear each other groan,¡± ¡°palsy shakes a few, sad, last gray hairs¡± and ¡°youth grows pale, and spectre-thin, and dies/ where but to think is to be full of sorrow/ And leaden-eyed despairs, / Where Beauty cannot keep her lustrous eyes, / Dr new love pine at them beyond tomorrow¡±. The poem describes the sadness of the world, and the misery of human being.


In contrast to the misery of human world, the scene in the poem is beautiful. The bird, Nightingale, is happiness. It sings in full-throated ease. The trees are ¡°green beechen¡± which forms melodious plot. The poem is full of ¡°Tasting of Flora and the country green¡±. There are ¡°Dance, and Provencal Song, and sunburnt mirth¡±. The night is tender. ¡°And haply the Queen-Moon is on her throne/ Cluster¡¯d around by all her Starry Fays¡±. At the speaker¡¯s feet there are flowers, which send out walts of delicate fragrance. In a word, the nature is permeated with a harmonious atmosphere in which the misery human being live and the nightingale sing the happy song.


¡¢ The contrast of two bird¡¯s song symbolic meaning


¡°The Darkling Thrush¡±, like not a few of Hardy¡¯s, has come to suggest the progression and cadence of a hymn. But the blessed hope appropriate to a hymn is in complete obliviousness of such a song as the bird is singing£­ its ¡°happy goodnight air¡± £­ a line whose unexpectedness among the comparatively formal sobriety of the poem¡¯s diction, always moves the heart of the readers.


The ¡°joy illimited¡± and hope of the bird¡¯s singing are all the more moving for their incongruity and expectedness. At this moment, the speaker¡¯s (who is the listener of the thrush song) response is divided between a disillusioned consciousness of things and a reawakened sense of joy and communion that is oblivious to this. Then the bird¡¯s song signals possibilities that the tentative conclusion of the poem seems concerned to remark, and incorporate even as it suggests at the same time that such possibilities are not actualisable ¡°I could think there trembled through/ His happy good-night air/ Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew/ And I was unaware¡±.


As above-mentioned the thrush¡¯s song transmits a sense of happiness. That is both real and insistent. The song provokes a response, a surprise by joy that the speaker in the poem, fervourless and leaning upon the coppice gate is painfully aware that he is unable to live up to and translate into a lived experience. So the bird¡¯s song is heard to evoke a response to life that is inseparable from what gives life value, as well as incompatible with Hardy¡¯s vision of personal and historical circumstances. The song awakens hope.


The song of the bird set up an oscillation, between the inspired and the grimly literal, that is evident in many and minute ways in the poem, as in these four lines ¡°So little cause for carolings / Of such ecstatic sound / Was written on terrestrial things / Afar or nigh around¡±. There, the intricate felicities of sound and suggestion of the first two lines yield, in the last pair, to a more down to earth appraisal, a returning sense of the separated and drained elements of the scene. The thrush¡¯s song transcends the poet¡¯s power of comprehension, but it reawakens his powers of response and writing. In this respect, there is a clear connection, as well as analogy, between the mysterious song of the bird and this rediscovery, which it entails in the poet of his own equally enigmatic capacities, not only of feeling, but also of inspiration. What becomes important is not what the song means to the poet so much as what it does to him. And what it does is to evoke an affect of joy, which in turn passes into the writing.


In ¡°Ode to a Nightingale¡±, the song of the nightingale is the inspiration of the poet just like the aged thrush¡¯s arouses Hardy¡¯s inspiration. That means the poem was inspired by the singing of a nightingale that had built its nest close to the house of a friend of the poet in Hampstead. Like the thrush ¡°chosen thus to fling his soul / Upon the growing gloom¡± and its happy song bring sweet hope to the speaker and human being, the nightingale is ¡°light-winged Dryad of the trees¡± and ¡°being too happy in happiness¡±. However unlike the thrush in ¡°The Darkling Thrush¡± is visible and described as a common bird, ¡°frail, gaunt and small, / In blast-beruffled plume.¡± The nightingale is ¡°unseen¡±. It ¡°singest of summer in full-throated ease¡±. The nightingale is ¡°immortal bird¡±. So it¡¯s not born for death. It pours forth its soul in ¡°such an ecstasy¡±. So the nightingale and its song symbolize the beautiful world where the speaker is dreaming to arrive. Nevertheless the speaker in the end is left alone to face the cold reality again after the nightingale disappeared with its happy song.


So we can compare the two poem¡¯s development according to the birds song. In ¡°The Darkling Thrush¡±, the first chapter describes a desolate winter atmosphere, which reflects the speaker¡¯s gloom mood. In the second chapter the sad and desolate scene reach the climax because the death of the century. So ¡°every spirit¡± upon earth and ¡°I¡± are fervourless. However, in the third chapter, the thrush song brings the turning point. The bird is singing, which gives the world fervous. And in the last chapter the speaker is moved by the thrush¡¯s ¡°carolings¡±, ¡°ecstatic mood¡±. He knows the thrush¡¯s happy good-night air give the world ¡°some blessed hope¡±. In ¡°Ode to a Nightingale¡±, the bird¡¯s song is heard at first. So the speaker is drunk for the song. Then the speaker expresses his wish to live happy life in ¡°unseen world¡± with the bird. Then the poem turns back to the sadness of the world in which life is full of pain and misery and in which the young die and the old suffer. Later the ¡°speaker¡± attempts his flight from the sadness and tries to take another form £­ not a liquor, the external thing, but ¡°poesy¡±, the inner state mind, is to free him. At this point the poems takes an unexpected turn, almost a somersault, for after proclaiming that the poet is ¡°already with thee¡±£­ as if he could at a leap join mortal hope to an eternal being, ¡°the Queen Moon¡±£­ he falls back into a world of time and changes a world where there is no light. But soon the speaker finds that he himself is in the wood in which flowers doom and die and seasons come and go. There he is conscious of his mortality and is drawn by the fantasy of dying to the nightingale¡¯s music. Then the speaker imagines a death, which is an ecstatic conclusion but then acknowledges that if he were dead the song would go unheard. At last the nightingale disappeared with its sweet song, the poet was left alone to face the cold reality again. Therefore we can compare the different mood in two poems which is aroused by the songs of the thrush and nightingale


Sadness ¡ú happy song ¡ú Sweet hope (The Darkling Thrush)


Happy ¡ú misery ¡ú illusion ¡ú disillusion (Ode to a Nightingale)


So the different birds arouses different the speaker¡¯s mood. And the root of the different is the different themes of the two poems


¡¢ The contrast of the two poem¡¯s theme


John Keats is one of famous Romantic poets. He lives in the early 1th century. Thomas Hardy is realist, pessimist and the herald of modernist. He lives in the late 1th century. Different period and different genre result in the different theme in their poets. Thomas Hardy¡¯ s recurrent themes are time, death and love. John Keats¡¯s eternal themes are beauty and truth. ¡°The Darkling Thrush¡±, which Hardy said, was written ¡°on the century¡¯s end¡±, climaxes a century which began with romantic bird poem, John Keats¡¯s ¡°Ode to a Nightingale¡±, P.B. Shelly¡¯s ¡°To a Sky-lark¡± and Wordsworth¡¯s various bird poems, and continued with other such poems through the century. Here Hardy recapitulates the tradition of the romantic bird which sings its diminished note within the void of the century¡¯s exhaustion.


The poem involved entering into the momentary delight or reverie of the speaker. The excitement, which the bird produces in the poem connects Hardy with those earlier poets who were also summoned by birds, and whose modified tones, rhythm and diction echo variously within ¡°The Darkling Thrush¡±. It is a poem in which Hardy is intrigued, in the first place, by the ways in which the bird¡¯s very unknowability £­ its obliviousness to the poet himself, its different type of feeling £­ is the condition for an unpremeditated encounter sound in which the poets finds a characteristic inspiration and affective summons.


Hardy regards nature as an organic unity, of which human life and society are microcosm, wholly subject to its governance. And Hardy¡¯ s language is figurative £­ metaphor, symbolism and imagery. His figurative language is his dominant effect that carries the structure of feeling. In ¡°The Darkling Thrush¡±, the aged, wind-blown thrush is itself a beleagured figure of lyrical inspiration and tradition, a kind of alter-ego or counterpart whose song draws out Hardy the poet. The song of the thrush signals to Hardy the writer because there remain within his characteristic susceptibilities and gifts of articulation, which still find their echo within the insistent accents and movements of the bird. Whether the ¡°happy goodnight air¡± is really a song of hope or not, the poem is itself (despite all its counterposed elements of an explicit disenchantement), a joyful manifestation of the ways Hardy¡¯ s inimitable capabilities can surprise and displace the minds conscious attitudes. The bird¡¯s independent existence and its song appear not merely to move the poet, but to move him characteristically to a complementary artistic expression.


In the poem there is a sudden change from perception to sound. The muteness of the poet for whom the universe is dead, gives way to the thrush, which expresses hope and joy. Like Hardy himself (aged, frail, gaunt and small) the thrush is the governing symbol for continual creative activity. Like the poet, who is both observer and agent, the thrush creates his essential self by an act of will. He has ¡°chosen thus to fling his soul / Upon the growing gloom¡±¡­ a defiant act of affirmation. It is also an unwitting act of loving-kindness that forges a contact between itself and the poet, creating a sense of solidarity with all living things. This is given a particular existential force by the poem¡¯s terrible context of non-being. A moment of happy apparently annihilates the tyranny of time. Hardy¡¯s poetry displays an extraordinary range of variations on major themes £­ nature, time and memory, death and love.


However ¡°Ode to a Nightingale¡± is different from ¡°The Darkling Thrush¡± in theme. Keats is the most perfect of Romanticists. The one artistic aim in his poetry was always to create a beautiful world of imagination as opposed to the sordid reality of his day. His leading principle is ¡°Beauty is truth, truth beauty¡±. He pursued the principle in all things. At the bottom of his poems lies his dissatisfaction with the society in which he lived and experienced great miseries and sufferings.


The Ode was written and printed in 181. It was inspired by the singing of a nightingale. The poem has been celebrated for its evocative quality, for its scenes that shimmer with the magic of the imagination, and for the richness of its sensual imagery. And it is not only a piece of intricate verbal tapestry, nor merely a rich froth of emotion, but a profound statement about the human predicament. In the poem, the speaker expresses his yearning to free himself from the burden of human cares and anxieties and to immerse himself in a world of beauty together with the nightingale.


In the poem¡¯s full of rich poetic imagery, enchanting lyricism and well-nigh perfect turns of phrase, Keats shows his immense admiration for lasting beauty in the world of art as well as his intense personal yearning for freedom from human miseries. In the poem Keats relate to what happens in his mind while he is listening to the song of a nightingale. At first the speaker shows himself in a state of uncomfortable drowsiness under the magic of the nightingale¡¯s song. Envying the happiness of the bird, Keats longs for a draught of wine which take him out of himself and allow him to join his existence with that of the bird, and by the power of wine and imagination he could leave the world in which life is full of pain and misery, sorrow and despair. Here the poet shows his deep understanding of the miseries of the lower people in his society and his great sympathy for the poor and unfortunate people. And here we can see clearly the poet¡¯s inner contradiction between the ugly social reality all round him and his vain wish to leave it or forget it and through his contrasting the joys of the ¡°immortal bird¡± with the ¡°hungry generations¡±. By saying the word ¡°Forlorn¡±, the poet ends the poem with an acute sense of pain.


Keats sought to express beauty in all of his poems. In all his poems, there is a voice through which beauty expresses itself. He is part of nature which he describes. He expresses the delight which comes not only through the eye and the ear but through the senses of touch, taste and smell. His poems are distinguished by sensuousness and the perfection of form. So his ability to appeal to the senses through language is unrivaled.


Èý¡¢ Conclusion


Thomas Hardy¡¯s ¡°The Darkling Thrush¡± owe to John Keats¡¯s ¡°Ode to a Nightingale¡±. So they have some similar aspects. First, both of the poems express the sadness, gloomy melancholy and misery of human world. In ¡°The Darkling Thrush¡±, except for the Thrush¡¯s song everything is forlorn, even thrush itself is in not good condition. It is only an aged thrush, ¡°frail, gaunt, and small / In blast-beruffled plume¡±. So the happy song of the birds form sharp contrast with the speaker, the human being and the desolate winter scene. However in ¡°Ode to a Nightingale¡± the human being lives misery in a human world, the whole nature is beautiful and happy. So the human world and the nature form sharp contrast. Second, both of the poems express the hope and dream to a beautiful world. Although the thrush¡¯s hope is not realized by the speaker, the nightingale arouses the happiness and illusion. When the nightingale and its songs disappea, the speaker feels disillusion.


However both poems have many different aspects. First, in ¡°The Darkling Thrush¡± the scene is desolate and feverless, in the ode the scene is joy and beauty. Second the thrush¡¯s song is the symbol of the hope, but the speaker doesn¡¯t know what is hope, while the nightingale¡¯s song arouses the poet¡¯s dream to the perfection world with the bird¡¯s song, but he becomes disillusionment at last. Third the themes of the two poems are different. ¡°The Darkling Thrush¡± seems to say that the momentary happiness would defeat time. ¡°Ode to a Nightingale¡± expresses the poet¡¯s Romantic imagination and relates to the poet¡¯s sympathy for the people who live in misery lives, and relates to the poet¡¯s dream to seek out the perfection world. In a world, ¡°The Darkling Thrush¡± and ¡°Ode to a Nightingale¡±, two poems expresses some similar subject as well as many different aspects.





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