The Darkling Thrush
"I leant upon a coppice gate
When frost was spectre-gray
And winter's dregs made desolate
The weakening eye of day."
More than a hundred years ago, Thomas Hardy, English poet and novelist, penned a moving lyric called "The Darkling Thrush". It is the end of the day, the end of the year, the end, in fact, of the century. Nature has contracted: the grey landscape is ghost-haunted; the poet, along with every other creature on earth, is fervourless, out of tune, hopeless.
Suddenly, the gloom is exploded by the thrilling, full-hearted song of a thrush. This is no brash, impatient young bird cocking a snook at misery, striking a defiant attitude in the face of an uninspiring, spiritless old world. This is a weather-beaten, life-battered old bird who is singing of hope. And the poet is wonder-struck. He looks about him. Where has the thrush found cause for singing? He concludes that although he can see no cause for hope, the thrush knows better:
So little cause for carolling
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.
I love this poem. It is ironic that old doom-and-gloom Hardy should be the one who makes the definitive statement for me about human hope - its independence of circumstances; its incorruptibility; its unexpectedness; its courage and beauty; its stubborn tenacity - its thrilling full-throated song forever challenging the gloom. As someone spreads darkness, someone else lights a candle. As women and children weep, love shows his face unexpectedly. In the midst of atrocity, a healing hand reaches out to offer comfort. In a trough of lies, truth reveals its shining face.
Long may the song of the aged thrush resound with full-throated ease. Long may its song spring with thrilling unexpectedness in the human heart.7th September 2017 Gaps
20th June 2017 "Love is not loved."
25th April 2017 I Hope You Dance
21st March 2017 From Darkness to Dawn
27th October 2016 The Bright Field
27th June 2016 The Enemy Within
31st May 2016 The Little Way to The Almighty
25th January 2016 Love Immeasurable
11th November 2015 Letting Go
21st May 2015 The Gift of Loss
6th May 2015 Walls
24th November 2014 Leaning into Winter
24th October 2014 Crossing the Road
25th June 2014 Fetters of the Soul
30th April 2014 The Power of Gratitude
10th March 2014 The Darkling Thrush
11th February 2014 Spring
10th February 2014 Masks
3rd February 2014 Dancing in the Wind
21st January 2014 Chains of nostalgia
13th January 2014 Forgiving wrongs darker than death or night
7th January 2014 Singing out Loud
17th December 2013 CHRISTMAS FOUND
9th December 2013 Withering into the Truth
2nd December 2013 The Celtic Prayer Garden
25th November 2013 Missing Dates
18th November 2013 NEARER GOD’S HEART
12th November 2013 Night
27th April 2010 Healing God
25th November 2009 Our Poverty
1st September 2009 Which of the two tigers will win the fight?
1st June 2009 Be your own role model
25th May 2009 The Feast of the Ascension of the Lord
18th May 2009 Power of the real presence
7th May 2009 "Lessons I did not learn in School" - by Bill Gates
20th April 2009 JESUS RISES FROM THE DEAD
30th March 2009 The Long Walk to Freedom
23rd March 2009 Become a Friend
16th March 2009 Ireland in Identity Crisis?
9th March 2009 Love to Pray
2nd March 2009 Life - Giving Words
16th February 2009 Exclusion Policy
9th February 2009 Somewhere the Child
2nd February 2009 The Conversion of St Paul
12th January 2009 Thomas Merton, "Thoughts in Solitude"
22nd December 2008 A Christmas Parable by Louis Cassels
15th December 2008 Work – from In the heart of the Temple by Sr Joan Chittister
8th December 2008 Am I at home when the doorbell rings?
1st December 2008 Street Corner Christ
17th November 2008 How Did I Get This Busy?
10th November 2008 A Homily for The Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica – 9th November 2008
3rd November 2008 John O’Donohue taken from “Benedictus - A Book of Blessings”
27th October 2008 Charles Peguy 1873-1914, French poet and politician
20th October 2008 The following is an extract from a talk given by Bishop George Lungu of Chipata in Zambia in Africa, to the synod of Bishops being held in Rome this month.
13th October 2008 Excerpt from ‘A Door of Hope’ by Jean Vanier
6th October 2008 A Reflection on Matthew's Gospel 21:28-32
29th September 2008 The Daily Decalogue of Pope John XXIII