Central Theme: Love, written in February 1916 about Edward Thomas' mother, Mary Thomas, following the time spent at home with his parents spent recovering from a short illness.
Structure: 10 Short quatrain stanzas focus on the personal and the interplay between 'you' and 'I'. Short stanzas with few stresses are used to convey the point precisely, truthfully and unambiguously. On paper, stanzas appear the look like fragments, reinforcing ideas of separation and Thomas' confusion.
Rhyming Scheme: Rhyme is harmonious; these lyrical rhymes evoking a musical tone, symbolising the enojoyement and dramatic reality of being in love, only to have this change at stanza four (see card).
- Suggests a mediation on the force of experiencing a love so great, it makes one's own in return appear inadequate, tinging the poem with a sense of melancholy and regret. It is as though Thomas has experienced a love he took for granted.
Stanza's One,Two and Three
Stanza One: 'my clay' refers to the body returning to the ground, presenting the imagery of solitude, as Thomas is inaccepting of the love offered. He is left to his own thoughts, which he hides an essentially buries, as bodies are.
Stanza Two: 'You know me through and through': repetition of adverb emphasises the depth of understanding she has of the speaker, accompanied with an underlying sense of appreciation from the speaker suggesting she doesn't try to dominate him. 'I have not told': Irony, he does in this poem, she is the epitome of it. Thomas finds comfort in writing but not saying these words.
Stanza Three: First person pronouns 'I' and 'You' suggests the speaker is speculating as to whether or not the relationship would be better as a complete separation. Past tense finite verb 'was': used to think of her as beautiful. The lack of adjectives and poetic devices (e.g. imagery+figurative language), strips the language to the minimum, lacing the poem with sincerity. Verb 'bear': evokes a sense of loyalty from speaker and protection, doesn't allow for criticism.
Stanza's Four, Five and Six
Stanza Four: Speakers feelings are more sensitive and refined than they manifest themselves. Sugggests lot of love passed unexpressed, and what transpired was not with the 'force' of affection the speaker had hoped for her.
Stanza Five: The 'eyes' are a metaphor for the inability to express love through physical forms (e.g. body language) which present themself as 'scarce'. Furthermore, the harmonious rhyme becomes partial in this stanza through the jarring of 'prove' and 'love', suggesting a lack of complete love for her as well as emphasising the shocking declaration of 'do not love'. Reinforced by the vagueness of 'respond', implying Thomas doesn't recognise his own emotions.
Stanza Six: 'We cannot speak', suggests there are no words to express the depths of their unspoken love. Justified through resorting to 'trifles', connoting the meaninglessness and lack of fluidity when they converse.
Stanza's Seven, Eight, Nine and Ten
Stanza Seven: The speaker can only passively accept her love; his anxiety regarding his inability to return the love she deserves has been diminished to 'fretting', to emphasise the fact he no longer loves her as she loves him.
Stanza Eight and Nine: Refer to leaving 'never to see you more', justified by departing from the rhyme scheme. It confirms he's unable to match the passion she feels for him, emphasised through the lexical choice 'burn' connoting fire and passion, opposed to Thomas' previously depiction of 'weak'.
Stanza Ten: 'Only gratitude', Thomas is overwhelmed with the lack of love, thus the self-comparison with a 'pine' denotes his lingering suffering, juxtaposed with the evocative imagery of the 'dove', suggesting the complete separation 'solitude', will render her peaceful as she deserves. The present-continuous, pre-modifying adjective 'cradling' reinforces this, suggesting inconspicuously, he is continually gently protecting his partner by not telling her the brutal truth.