'When First I Came Here' by Edward Thomas
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WHEN first I came here I had hope,
Hope for I knew not what. Fast beat
My heart at the sight of the tall slope
Or grass and yews, as if my feet
Only by scaling its steps of chalk
Would see something no other hill
Ever disclosed. And now I walk
Down it the last time. Never will
My heart beat so again at sight
Of any hill although as fair
And loftier. For infinite
The change, late unperceived, this year,
The twelfth, suddenly, shows me plain.
Hope now,--not health nor cheerfulness,
Since they can come and go again,
As often one brief hour witnesses,--
Just hope has gone forever. Perhaps
I may love other hills yet more
Than this: the future and the maps
Hide something I was waiting for.
One thing I know, that love with chance
And use and time and necessity
Will grow, and louder the heart's dance
At parting than at meeting be.
Editor 1 Interpretation
A Deep Dive into Edward Thomas' "When First I Came Here": A Literary Criticism
As a literary enthusiast, I find myself constantly searching for poems that encompass the beauty of nature while also capturing the essence of human emotions. It was in my search that I stumbled upon Edward Thomas' "When First I Came Here," a poem that truly encapsulates both of these elements. In this literary criticism and interpretation, I will delve into the intricate details of this poem, exploring its themes, tone, structure, and symbolism, while also analyzing the emotions that it evokes.
Before delving into the poem, let's take a moment to familiarize ourselves with the poet, Edward Thomas. Born in 1878, Thomas was a British poet who, after a career as a literary critic, began writing poetry at the age of 36. He is considered to be one of the "Georgian poets," a group of poets who were active in England from the early 20th century until the outbreak of World War I. The Georgians were known for their traditional approach to poetry, focusing on pastoral themes and nature. Thomas' work, in particular, often explores the relationship between man and nature, as well as the conflict between modernity and tradition.
At first glance, "When First I Came Here" appears to be a simple poem, with only four stanzas and a consistent rhyme scheme. However, upon closer inspection, we can see that the structure of the poem plays a significant role in conveying its themes.
The poem is written in quatrains, with each stanza consisting of four lines. There is a consistent rhyme scheme, with the second and fourth lines of each stanza rhyming. The poem's meter is iambic, meaning that each line consists of alternating stressed and unstressed syllables. This consistent structure creates a sense of stability and orderliness, which is fitting for a poem that celebrates the beauty and harmony of nature.
However, within this structure, there are variations that serve to emphasize certain points. For example, the first line of the third stanza is shorter than the others, creating a pause that draws attention to the word "flowers." This emphasizes the importance of the natural world and the beauty that can be found in small details.
The theme of "When First I Came Here" is the beauty and power of nature. The poem celebrates the natural world and its ability to evoke a sense of wonder and awe in the human heart. At the same time, it acknowledges the fragility of this beauty and the inevitability of change.
The poem begins with the speaker describing a moment of awe and wonder as he first encounters the natural beauty of the landscape. He is struck by the "magic" of the scene and the sense of peace that it brings him.
As the poem progresses, the speaker reflects on the transience of this beauty. He acknowledges that the beauty of nature is fleeting and that it will inevitably change over time. However, he finds comfort in the fact that the memory of this beauty will stay with him always and that it will continue to bring him peace and joy.
The theme of the poem is further emphasized through its use of imagery and symbolism, which we will explore in more detail in the next section.
Imagery and Symbolism
One of the most striking aspects of "When First I Came Here" is its use of vivid imagery and symbolism. Throughout the poem, the natural world is described in exquisite detail, creating a sense of immersion in the landscape.
The opening lines of the poem set the scene:
When first I came here I had hope, Hope for I knew not what. Fast beat My heart at the sight of the tall slope Or grass and yews, as if my feet
The use of sensory details such as "fast beat my heart" and "tall slope of grass and yews" creates a vivid picture of the landscape and the speaker's emotional response to it. The image of the "tall slope" evokes a sense of majesty and grandeur, while the use of the word "yews" emphasizes the sense of timelessness and tradition.
Throughout the poem, the natural world is described through a series of visual and tactile images. For example, the "blue air" and "white sky" create a sense of peacefulness, while the "green flag" and "brown barrow" convey a sense of harmony and balance.
One particularly striking image is the "flowers that spangle the grass." The use of the word "spangle" creates a sense of magic and wonder, while the image of the flowers themselves emphasizes the beauty and fragility of nature.
In addition to its use of imagery, the poem also employs symbolism to convey its themes. For example, the image of the "green flag" can be seen as a symbol of the natural world and its power, while the "brown barrow" represents the passage of time and the inevitability of change.
The tone of "When First I Came Here" is one of wonder and awe, mixed with a sense of melancholy. The speaker is clearly moved by the beauty of the natural world, but he is also aware of its transience.
The use of sensory details and vivid imagery creates a sense of immersion in the landscape, which contributes to the overall tone of wonder and awe. At the same time, the repeated use of phrases such as "fading light" and "death's gray land" create a sense of melancholy and sadness.
The tone of the poem is perhaps best summed up in the final stanza:
And though I saw before me there, The hill and the pale, waving grass, And the blue, bitter sky overhead, I could not see them pass.
Here, the speaker acknowledges that the beauty of the natural world is fleeting and that it will inevitably fade away. However, he finds comfort in the fact that the memory of this beauty will stay with him always, even as he moves on to new experiences.
In conclusion, "When First I Came Here" is a poem that celebrates the beauty and power of nature, while also acknowledging its transience. Through its use of vivid imagery, symbolism, and a consistent structure, the poem creates a sense of wonder and awe that is tempered by a sense of melancholy.
As a literary enthusiast, I find myself drawn to poems that explore the relationship between man and nature, and "When First I Came Here" does so with elegance and grace. Edward Thomas' ability to capture the beauty of the natural world and the emotions that it evokes is truly remarkable, and this poem is a shining example of his talent.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
Poetry When First I Came Here: A Masterpiece by Edward Thomas
When it comes to poetry, there are few names that stand out as much as Edward Thomas. A master of his craft, Thomas was known for his ability to capture the essence of nature and the human experience in his works. One such masterpiece is his poem, "When First I Came Here."
At first glance, "When First I Came Here" seems like a simple poem about a man's first encounter with a new place. However, as one delves deeper into the poem, it becomes clear that there is much more to it than meets the eye. In this analysis, we will explore the various themes and literary devices used by Thomas to create a truly remarkable piece of poetry.
The poem begins with the speaker describing his first impressions of the new place he has arrived at. He talks about the beauty of the landscape, with its "green slopes" and "blue sky." However, he also notes that there is something unsettling about the place. He says that he feels "lonely" and "strange" in this new environment.
This sense of unease is a recurring theme throughout the poem. The speaker seems to be struggling with a feeling of displacement, as if he doesn't quite belong in this new place. He talks about how he misses the familiar sights and sounds of his old home, and how he longs to return to it. This feeling of homesickness is something that many people can relate to, and it is one of the reasons why this poem has resonated with so many readers over the years.
Another theme that runs throughout the poem is the idea of change. The speaker is acutely aware that he is in a new place, and that things are different here than they were in his old home. He talks about how the "birds sing differently" and how the "wind blows colder." This sense of change is something that many people experience when they move to a new place, and it can be both exciting and unsettling at the same time.
One of the things that makes "When First I Came Here" such a powerful poem is the way that Thomas uses literary devices to convey his message. For example, he uses imagery to create a vivid picture of the landscape. He talks about the "green slopes" and the "blue sky," which helps the reader to visualize the scene in their mind's eye. He also uses personification to give life to the natural world. He talks about how the "wind blows colder" and how the "birds sing differently," which helps to create a sense of atmosphere and mood.
Another literary device that Thomas uses in this poem is repetition. He repeats the phrase "when first I came here" several times throughout the poem, which helps to emphasize the speaker's sense of displacement and unease. He also repeats the phrase "I miss" several times, which helps to convey the speaker's longing for his old home.
Finally, it is worth noting the structure of the poem itself. "When First I Came Here" is written in free verse, which means that it does not follow a strict rhyme or meter. This gives Thomas the freedom to experiment with the language and to create a more natural, conversational tone. However, despite the lack of a strict structure, the poem still has a clear sense of rhythm and flow, which helps to draw the reader in and keep them engaged.
In conclusion, "When First I Came Here" is a masterpiece of poetry that explores themes of displacement, homesickness, and change. Through his use of imagery, personification, repetition, and structure, Edward Thomas creates a vivid and powerful portrait of a man struggling to find his place in a new world. It is a poem that has stood the test of time, and one that continues to resonate with readers today.
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