Discuss Ways in Which Edward Thomas Presents Memory in ‘Aspens’.

1215 words 5 pages
“Empty as sky, with every other sound
No ceasing, calls there ghosts from their abode”

Discuss ways in which Thomas presents memory in ‘Aspens’.

In your answer, explore the effects of language, imagery and verse form, and consider how this poem relates to other poems by Thomas that you have studied.

Memory is presented as either a way of life or a community of change, as demonstrated in ‘Aspens’, ‘Old Man’, ‘Aldestrop’. He does this through the variety of techniques such as change in form, use of imagery and alternations in the tone of each poem to explore memory. As well as this, Thomas explicates the devastation of emptiness due to the consequence of war, which is portrayed through the use of soft consonantal sounds or the use
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We also see emptiness in ‘Aldestrop’ as Thomas explains how the unexpected stop is ‘bare’. The reason for this could be because the train was not due to stop at Aldestrop; on the other hand it could indicate the effects of wartime, particularly desolation.

Loss of memory is seen in many of Thomas’ poems through different ways. Edna Longley, critic, points out that the part of the mind that remembers is the same part of the mind that generates poetry- the subconscious and comments that in ‘Old Man’ ‘perhaps / thinking perhaps of nothing’ is a rhetorically cunning line break. The verb ‘think’ is central to the poem as is the verb ‘remember’. Particularly in ‘Old Man’ Thomas uses the metaphor ‘I have mislaid the key’ to present his attempt of recollecting his first memory of the plant, Lads-Love. He portrays this as tantalising as he can ‘think of nothing’ when sniffing the herb, which suggests he finds loss of memory as frustrating. This is shown from the anaphora of ‘no’ at the end of the poem as it rightly expresses that the more he tries to remember the less likely the memory will reappear, which further shows his frustration of struggling to regain his memory. Despite this, Thomas makes it clear that the memory brings him sentimentality and this is clearly important to him.


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