Blast Beruffled Plume

Today’s David’s Tea is a wonderful selection. It’s called Salted Caramel Oolong. We always say we have yet to meet an oolong we don’t like, and this is a textbook example of why that’s true.

Oolongs are wonderfully flexible teas. You can mix them with fruit or sweets or leave them alone and you always get a rich combination of tastes. Salted Caramel Oolong is a bit sweet, and it’s long in the mouth. It’s an extravagant desert tea or afternoon tea. There’s enough caffeine to get you through the afternoon but not too much to keep you wide awake.

We drank ours while writing about bird symbolism today. 2000 words of it. It’s been one of our better topics.

That makes our poetry selection tonight apt. Here’s one of our favourite poems in the English language to go with our favourite oolong. It happens to be about a bird. But it’s about so much more than that, too.

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.

Not that anyone asked, but we could do you a whole Advent of nothing but Thomas Hardy. The man gets damned out of hand for his bleak novels, but for our money, he writes some of the most beautiful poetry there is. And as this one demonstrates, it can be surprisingly hopeful.

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