Thomas Hardy's frail thrush flinging his soul upon the gloom brings to mind R. S. Thomas's blackbird.
Thomas was a devoted bird-watcher. Although he seldom travelled abroad, he did go on bird-watching excursions to Denmark (where he "had a chance . . . to enquire about Kierkegaard, the Danish theologian [nice piece of wit and/or understatement, that!], although he did not get time to find his grave"), and, later, to France and Spain. In France, after he and his companion were spotted getting out of their car carrying binoculars, "officers from the air force arrived and arrested them for spying! The rest of the day was spent answering silly questions from the air force and the police, who had come all the way from Bordeaux to cross-examine these two dangerous men!" R. S. Thomas, "Neb" ("No-one"), in Autobiographies (translated from the Welsh by Jason Walford Davies) (1997), page 68.
"Birds on the Seashore" (c. 1950s)
A Blackbird Singing
It seems wrong that out of this bird,
Black, bold, a suggestion of dark
Places about it, there yet should come
Such rich music, as though the notes'
Ore were changed to a rare metal
At one touch of that bright bill.
You have heard it often, alone at your desk
In a green April, your mind drawn
Away from its work by sweet disturbance
Of the mild evening outside your room.
A slow singer, but loading each phrase
With history's overtones, love, joy
And grief learned by his dark tribe
In other orchards and passed on
Instinctively as they are now,
But fresh always with new tears.
R. S. Thomas, Song at the Year's Turning (1955).
R. S. Thomas and Mildred E. Eldridge were married for over 50 years. She died in 1991. He died in 2000. I intend to look at "A Marriage," his wonderful poem about her, in a future post.