Metaphor in The Darkling Thrush

Metaphor Examples in The Darkling Thrush:

The Darkling Thrush 5

"trembled..."   (The Darkling Thrush)

Hardy’s use of “trembled” is clever, and works on several levels. On one level, it describes the nature of the bird’s song: warbling, oscillating. On another level, it reiterates the winter chill of the setting. On a third level, it underscores the precariousness of the bird’s position, its weakness in the face of the winter bleakness.

"evensong..."   (The Darkling Thrush)

In the Anglican church, evensong is an evening service centered around choral hymns. This metaphor gives the bird’s singing a heavenly, exultant tone. Whether Hardy intended to imbue the thrush with a literal sense of the divine is unclear.

"ancient pulse of germ and birth..."   (The Darkling Thrush)

The trio of “pulse,” “germ,” and “birth” share almost identical vowel sounds which descend into a liquid consonant, either l or r. The line’s clean tetrameter brings the pulse to life—we can feel it as we read. Referring to the cycle of germination and birth as a pulse heightens the sense of vivacity because of the association of “pulse” with the bloodstream. In this line, Hardy uses the “ancient pulse” to refer to the natural cycles that guided agrarian cultures for thousands of years. When he goes on to describe the pulse as “shrunken hard and dry,” he alludes to the death of agrarian culture due to the industrial revolution.

"weakening eye of day...."   (The Darkling Thrush)

Hardy’s metaphor for the setting sun—a circle collapsing like a closing eye—serves as another motif of death and finality. Considered in the context of the rise of modernity, the “weakening eye” suggests a decline in reason in modern civilization. Hardy lamented the death of agricultural society and the advent of industrialization.

"Winter's dregs..."   (The Darkling Thrush)

This is a metaphor for snow. The image of dregs—the residue left from liquid—offers connotations of emptiness, or an end to joy. It brings to mind a finished beverage.