Thomas Hardy 
from Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia,1996
     I LEANT upon a coppice gate  
           When Frost was spectre-gray,  
     And Winter's dregs made desolate  
         The weakening eye of day.  
     The tangled bine-stems scored the sky  
         Like strings of broken lyres,  
     And all mankind that haunted nigh  
         Had sought their household fires.  
     The land's sharp features seemed to be  
         The Century's corpse outleant,  
     His crypt the cloudy canopy,  
         The wind his death-lament.  
     The ancient pulse of germ and birth  
         Was shrunken hard and dry,  
     And every spirit upon earth  
         Seemed fervourless as I.  
     At once a voice arose among  
         The bleak twigs overhead  
     In a full-hearted evensong  
         Of joy illimited;  
     An aged thrush, frail, gaunt, and small,  
         In blast-beruffied plume,  
     Had chosen thus to fling his soul  
         Upon the growing gloom.  
     So little cause for carolings  
         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.  
December 1900
Collected Poems of Thomas Hardy
New York: Macmillan, 1943
THRUSH. In the large thrush family of birds are some of the finest singers the robin, the bluebird, and the nightingale, as well as those commonly known as thrushes. Although most of them are feathered in browns and buffs, some thrushes such as the robin and the bluebird have bright colors. 
   Whatever the color of the parent birds, all young thrushes have spotted breasts until their first autumn molt. Some species nest and live in trees, others on the ground; some feed on insects, others on fruits. In England the mavis, or song thrush, the missel thrush, and the nightingale are the best-known species. In the United States the wood thrush, the hermit thrush, and the veery are among the best known of the family. These are slender brown birds. 
Excerpted from Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia 
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