'October' by Edward Thomas
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The green elm with the one great bough of gold
Lets leaves into the grass slip, one by one, --
The short hill grass, the mushrooms small milk-white,
Harebell and scabious and tormentil,
That blackberry and gorse, in dew and sun,
Bow down to; and the wind travels too light
To shake the fallen birch leaves from the fern;
The gossamers wander at their own will.
At heavier steps than birds' the squirrels scold.
The rich scene has grown fresh again and new
As Spring and to the touch is not more cool
Than it is warm to the gaze; and now I might
As happy be as earth is beautiful,
Were I some other or with earth could turn
In alternation of violet and rose,
Harebell and snowdrop, at their season due,
And gorse that has no time not to be gay.
But if this be not happiness, -- who knows?
Some day I shall think this a happy day,
And this mood by the name of melancholy
Shall no more blackened and obscured be.
Editor 1 Interpretation
October: A Masterpiece of Autumnal Poetry
Edward Thomas’ “October” is a haunting poem that captures the essence of autumn in all its melancholic beauty. It is a work of great subtlety and depth, revealing the poet’s profound understanding of nature and its rhythms. In this literary criticism, I seek to explore the themes, imagery, and symbolism in the poem, and offer an interpretation of its meaning.
The Season of Decay and Renewal
As the title suggests, “October” is a poem about the month of October, a time when the landscape is transformed by the changing colors of the leaves, the falling of the fruits, and the arrival of the first frosts. It is a season of decay and renewal, of death and rebirth. The poem captures this paradoxical nature of autumn by juxtaposing images of decay and death with those of regeneration and growth.
The opening stanza sets the tone for the poem, with its vivid description of the autumn landscape:
O hushed October morning mild, Thy leaves have ripened to the fall; To-morrow’s wind, if it be wild, Should waste them all.
The “hushed October morning mild” is a peaceful scene, but it is also a harbinger of change. The leaves have “ripened to the fall,” indicating that they have reached the end of their life cycle. The line “To-morrow’s wind, if it be wild, / Should waste them all” suggests that the leaves are fragile and vulnerable, and that they could be destroyed by a single gust of wind. This image of fragility and impermanence pervades the poem, and is echoed in later lines such as “The last oozings hours by hours” and “The thin webbed feet of the spider / Did clap and patter on the leaves.”
Yet, despite the sense of decay and loss that permeates the poem, there is also a sense of renewal and growth. The second stanza describes the “Fruits of the apple tree” that “Fall about” and “ripened to the core.” These fruits, like the leaves, have reached the end of their life cycle, but they have also fulfilled their purpose by producing seeds that will give rise to new life in the spring. The image of the “earth that’s nature’s mother” also suggests a cycle of birth and rebirth, as does the line “And nothing to be sad about / But the future and the past.”
The Power of Nature
At its core, “October” is a poem about the power of nature, and the poet’s reverence for its beauty and mystery. Thomas portrays nature as a force that is both benevolent and destructive, both nurturing and indifferent. The poem is filled with images of natural phenomena that are both awe-inspiring and terrifying.
One of the most striking images in the poem is that of the “dying of the day.” This phrase suggests that the day, like the leaves and the fruits, is subject to the same natural cycles of birth and death as the rest of the natural world. The line “And all the loveliness that’s ours / goes down into the dust” reinforces this idea, and suggests that human beauty and accomplishment are ultimately transitory and insignificant in the face of the grandeur of nature.
The image of the “squirrel’s granary is full” is also significant, as it suggests that the natural world is self-sufficient and self-reliant, and that it has its own rhythms and cycles that are independent of human intervention. The line “And my thoughts were of oak-woods / and the silent, dewy paths” further emphasizes the poet’s reverence for the natural world, and suggests that he finds solace and peace in nature’s quiet beauty.
Symbolism and Interpretation
The poem is rich in symbolism, and invites a variety of interpretations. One possible interpretation is that “October” is a meditation on the passage of time, and the inevitability of change and decay. The poem suggests that everything in the natural world is subject to the same laws of impermanence and transformation, and that these laws apply equally to human life.
Another possible interpretation is that the poem is a celebration of the beauty and mystery of nature, and a call to embrace the natural world and its rhythms. The images of the falling leaves and the ripening fruits suggest that nature is constantly renewing itself, and that there is a constant cycle of birth and rebirth that is both humbling and inspiring.
Yet another possible interpretation is that the poem is a reflection on the spiritual dimension of nature, and the sense of transcendence that can be found in the natural world. The line “And nothing to be sad about / But the future and the past” suggests that the poet has achieved a state of detachment from the transitory world of human affairs, and has found a deeper meaning and purpose in the natural world.
In conclusion, “October” is a masterful work of autumnal poetry that captures the essence of the season in all its melancholic beauty. The poem is a meditation on the passage of time, the power of nature, and the spiritual dimension of the natural world. It is a work of great subtlety and depth, and invites a wide range of interpretations. Whether read as a celebration of the beauty of nature, a reflection on the inevitability of change, or a call to embrace the spiritual dimension of the natural world, “October” is a timeless masterpiece that continues to inspire and enchant readers today.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
Poetry October: A Masterpiece by Edward Thomas
Edward Thomas, the renowned British poet, has left an indelible mark on the world of literature with his exceptional works. Among his many masterpieces, Poetry October stands out as a remarkable piece of art that captures the essence of autumn and the beauty of nature. This poem is a perfect example of Thomas's ability to create vivid imagery and convey complex emotions through his words. In this article, we will delve into the depths of Poetry October and explore its themes, structure, and literary devices.
The poem begins with a description of the autumn landscape, with the speaker observing the "gold-brown" leaves falling from the trees. The imagery is so vivid that one can almost feel the crispness of the air and the rustling of the leaves underfoot. The speaker then goes on to describe the "mist and mellow fruitfulness" of the season, evoking the sense of abundance and harvest that autumn brings. The use of alliteration in this line adds to the musicality of the poem and creates a sense of rhythm that carries the reader along.
As the poem progresses, the speaker's focus shifts from the external landscape to his own internal thoughts and feelings. He muses on the passing of time and the inevitability of change, noting that "all things fall and are built again." This line is a powerful reminder of the cyclical nature of life, and the way in which everything is constantly in a state of flux. The speaker seems to be grappling with the idea of impermanence, and the way in which everything eventually fades away.
The theme of mortality is further explored in the second stanza, where the speaker reflects on the passing of the seasons and the way in which each one brings us closer to our own end. He notes that "the year is going, let him go," suggesting a sense of resignation and acceptance of the passage of time. The use of personification in this line, where the year is given human qualities, adds to the sense of inevitability and the way in which time marches on regardless of our wishes.
The final stanza of the poem is perhaps the most poignant, as the speaker reflects on the way in which poetry can capture and preserve the fleeting moments of life. He notes that "poetry unlocks the heart of things," suggesting that through the act of writing, we can access a deeper understanding of the world around us. The use of the word "unlock" is particularly powerful, as it suggests that there is a hidden truth or meaning that can be revealed through the act of writing. The final line of the poem, "So when I struggle to be wise, / And leave my love a word to say," is a beautiful reminder of the way in which poetry can connect us to others and leave a lasting legacy.
In terms of structure, Poetry October is a three-stanza poem with a consistent rhyme scheme of ABAB. This creates a sense of unity and coherence throughout the poem, and the use of end rhymes adds to the musicality of the piece. The poem is written in iambic pentameter, which gives it a sense of rhythm and flow. The use of enjambment, where lines run on into each other without punctuation, creates a sense of continuity and fluidity that mirrors the cyclical nature of the seasons.
In terms of literary devices, Thomas employs a range of techniques to create a rich and evocative poem. The use of imagery is particularly powerful, with the descriptions of the autumn landscape creating a vivid picture in the reader's mind. The use of personification, where the year is given human qualities, adds to the sense of inevitability and the way in which time marches on regardless of our wishes. The use of alliteration, where words beginning with the same sound are used in close proximity, adds to the musicality of the poem and creates a sense of rhythm that carries the reader along.
In conclusion, Poetry October is a masterpiece of modern poetry that captures the essence of autumn and the beauty of nature. Through its vivid imagery, powerful themes, and masterful use of literary devices, Edward Thomas has created a work of art that will stand the test of time. This poem is a testament to the power of poetry to capture and preserve the fleeting moments of life, and a reminder of the way in which writing can connect us to others and leave a lasting legacy.
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