Proud Songsters by Thomas Hardy

Proud Songsters

The thrushes sing as the sun is going,
And the finches whistle in ones and pairs,
And as it gets dark loud nightingales in bushes
Pipe, as they can when April wears,
As if all Time were theirs.

These are brand new birds of twelvemonths’ growing,
Which a year ago, or less than twain,
No finches were, nor nightingales, nor thrushes,
But only particles of grain,
And earth, and air, and rain.

Thomas Hardy
Last week I went to a reading of Thomas Hardy’s poetry organised by Poet in the City. There were six poets reading their favourite Hardy poems and in some cases reading the poems they had written in response. It was one of the best poetry readings I have attended — it is always a pleasure to hear poets talking about what makes a great poem, and interesting that they should be united in their admiration of Hardy.

There were two poems they all mentioned: Who’s in the Next Room? and this one. What’s interesting about Hardy is how fresh and unexpected he feels. He has a lightness of touch here that I don’t find in his novels. This poem, like many of Hardy’s, is about time and the passing of time, but its point is made as delicately as the birdsong it describes.