How is it that birdsong can give us such a sense of hope?  Today I was walking up into the woods and heard a bird I haven’t heard for years.  Hearing it, with instant recognition, transported me to repeated moments earlier in my life when that same song imbued me with a sense of intense exhilaration and expansive possibility.  The same emotions, before I could even identify them, surged on hearing the song again. 

In his poem ‘The Darkling Thrush’, Thomas Hardy, feeling less than hopeful on a dark, oppressive evening, hears something in the bird’s song which suggests it knows something he doesn’t, something about hidden hope.  Perhaps the reason they inspire such feelings in us is that they can sing so joyously despite their constant struggle for survival – in Hardy’s poem, he describes the bird as ‘An aged thrush, frail, gaunt, and small, / In blast-beruffled plume’.

That I could think there trembled through

His happy good-night air

Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew

And I was unaware.  


Source: Thomas Hardy, ‘The Darkling Thrush’

Photo credit: Cock-Robin at pixabay


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