Magazine December 31, 2019, Issue

Reading Thomas Hardy’s ‘The Darkling Thrush’ at Year’s End

A thrush in winter (Gleb Garanich/Reuters)

Cold whittles the bird population down. By December, all that remain are the clean-up crew — hawks, owls, buzzards — the noisemakers — crows, jays, woodpeckers — and the winter flock of dusky little ones. Thomas Hardy wrote a poem about a year-end encounter with a wintry bird, “The Darkling Thrush.”

A number of eminent Victorians left the faith of their birth, a few for Rome, more for nothing. Hardy fled to a very dour faith — in an often malicious Fate, working through the iron laws of Nature. His creed both enabled and hobbled his genius, giving his novels and

This article appears as “Some Blessed Hope” in the December 31, 2019, print edition of National Review.

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