The Darkling Thrush
by Thomas Hardy
Where It All Goes Down
If you've seen Fargo, you know just how quiet and desolate all of those quiet frozen Nowheres are in this world. You know, the kind that don't even make it onto the map. That's where Hardy's speaker does his best work. See, as far as he's concerned, the more desolate things are, the better. People only mess with the view.
Not that there's much of a view in "The Darkling Thrush." For one thing, it's almost dark. For another, anything that was ever green sure isn't green any longer. It's the deepest, deadest part of winter. The speaker wants us to experience the absolute chill of nature and time conspiring against us. The thing is, though, that there's no one around to experience it. We don't know why the landscape is so empty. We do have a few thoughts, though:
Hardy's pretty insistent on the ways that overwork and changed lifestyles that came along with the Industrial Revolution have turned human beings into…less than human beings. Maybe there aren't any "real" humans around anymore. We don't mean that in a Bladerunner androids sort of way. It's more of an I've-been-staring-at-the-TV-so-long-I'm-not-sure-I-can-hold-a-conversation kind of way. Those dull, blank stares you see around you 50 minutes into an algebra class? Hardy says "No more!"
Have you ever seen a landscape picture? Maybe those kinds by Thomas Kincade? They're the sorts of things that every grandma and great-aunt loves. Hey, maybe you like them, too. The point is, landscapes don't tend to have people in them. If they do, the people are the tiny little blobs skating on the pond. Imagine this poem as a picture: it's about the changing of time and the seasons and natural beauty. See? It's almost like Thomas Kincade. Except, well, way better (sorry, Grandma).