But These Things Also - Edward Thomas

HideShow resource information

Introduction/General Points

Central Theme: Written March 1915, detailing the transition between Winter and Spring to offer the accumulation of the specifics associated with the coming of Spring.

Structure: 4 stanzas, conjuring the image of four seasons. Moreover, the poem is one long sentence, creating a sense of the intermingling of the seasons - seeing it as a transitionary process opposed to set-in-stone dates of the year. The cyclical nature of the seasons is reflected by the Iambic Tetrameter

Rhyming Scheme: Regular, accentuating the idea that Thomas sees nothing inharmonious about dying, decaying and fragmenting 'things' he sees in Spring, instead finds interest and even beauty in them. 

1 of 4

Stanza One

  • The use of internal rhyme 'these things are also Spring's' helps to emphasise the power of season's and highlight their significance in nature that is commonly overlooked. 
  • There are occassionally slight crescendos in the poem, followed by bathos, such as when Thomas refers to 'Spring's' on the first line initially connoting hope are revigoration, only to juxtapose this with the 'long-dead' grass, which does not conform to this expectation. Thomas is accentuating that Spring is a more complex season than people imagine and wants to emphasise an aspect very different from its conventional depiction by introducing the contrasting theme of death and decay.
  • This is reinforced by the jarring partial rhyme of 'grass' and 'was', giving prominence to what most people would either disregard or find unusual about Spring.
  • 'Than all Winter it was': syntactical order is not only reversed for lyrical effect but also emphasises something which many people would see as a reversal of the natural order.
2 of 4

Stanza Two and Three

  • Essentially broken by caesura to draw attention to the imagery of small, discarded minutiae. They are associated through their small sizes perhaps emphasising the shrinkage during decay, which is reinforced by the monosyllables of 'mite', 'chip', 'dung', 'small'. These short, sharp phrases regulate the pace of the poem, evoking the process of transition between seasons.
  • Not only this, but they are all associated with the inanimate; belonging to winter and  the 'white' and 'bleached' suggests a draining of colour as if they is purity in decay. Thomas is trying to recreate the very cusp of the old world and the new: Winter as it becomes Spring.
  • 'White things a man mistakes for earliest violets', that fact violets can be mistaken for 'these things' emphasises the beauty and delicacy of decay.
  • Thomas refers to 'something to pay Winter's debts', suggesting natures beauty (aesthetically pleasing 'things'), compensate for the destructive 'ruins' of Winter. This anaphorically links with 'mite', ambiguously meaning a small particle and also a coin, thus, also use of monetary diction.
3 of 4

Stanza Four

  • Thomas portrays the cyclical and continuous nature of the transition through 'starling flocks by chattering on and on', the use of present continuous tense in the dynamic verb 'chattering' suggests the infinity of seasons. The anthropomorphism of birds occurs frequently in Thomas' poetry, believing birds hold a higher power, reiterating the beauty of nature that is often discarded.
  • The caesura of the last line comprises two short clauses, emphasising the contrast between the seasons 'And Spring's here, Winter's not gone.'. The fronted coordinating conjunction evokes how quickly the transition of seasons have occured for Thomas, as if he was distracted by his admiration for nature that he didn't notice the passing seasons. Perhaps he chose not to as in 1915, Thomas' would be soon choosing to enlist in the First World War.
  • The full stop only at the end reinforces the point where he must face reality - the intermingling of seasons has reached an end.
4 of 4

Comments

No comments have yet been made

Similar English Literature resources:

See all English Literature resources »See all Edward Thomas resources »