Cause for Carolings

It was Hot Chocolate Tea tonight, for the shortest day. We don’t usually care for chocolate in tea, but we make an exception with this tea because the creaminess of it is a nice compliment to the chocolate. It’s also more black tea than it is chocolate, not a balance people always get right when they blend the two. It’s featured before on this blog, and at the time we wondered if milk would enhance the taste or confuse it. We still haven’t experimented, and don’t think we will. As a flavoured black tea it is rich and full-bodied, and we’ve mostly decided adding milk would make it cloying. It would also drown the hints of vanilla that run through it.

Now, we promised you a poem the other night, but you still have to wait on it. Don’t worry, no Apocalyptic Wailing tonight about technology. But we wanted something hopeful for the shortest day -it’s such a drear, dark occasion. We did dither about giving you this one, as we’ve used it before here, and haven’t established what our rules are about repeating a poem. But the dithering was before we got a repeated tea. We think that completely justifies us in going back to what is for us the most beloved winter-themed poem of the English canon. Read it, enjoy it, and carry a bit of light through the growing gloom with you.

The Darkling Thrush

Thomas Hardy

I leant upon a coppice gate
      When Frost was spectre-grey,
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-beruffled 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.
*Remember a while back we said you could sing most Hardy to any hymn tune? Try it with this one. Our especial favourite is Aurelia, but Repton is good too. Don’t cleave to those though -be inventive!

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