Saturday, March 29, 2014

Analysis of "Words" by Edward Thomas

Original poem reprinted online here:  "Words" by Edward Thomas
Originally read: September 6, 2013
More information about the Poet:  Edward Thomas




The muse of writing. Well, it's one of the  concepts that has been addressed in the construction of creative writing.  Some writer's have to be inspired by something in order to write; however, in doing so, the question is -- who is responsible for the act, the muse or the conduit?

     Out of us all
     That makes rhymes
     Will you choose
     Sometimes -

For the first four lines, I felt that the call to the muse is humorous due to the rhyme scheme being so sing-songy, and also the end of the stanza with a sign of desperation: "Choose me, / You English words?"  However, the desperation is quantified by the question.  It's not in the act of choosing rather what words mean and provide.

The next part is pretty long but starts out with "I know you:" and even though "you" is ambiguous, there's a high percent chance that the "you" refers the muse or words since the flow of the poem (the previous stanza) centers around the concept.

In any case, the coincidental aspect here is that by describing "you" the speaker conjures a long list of descriptors like, "You are light as dreams," or "As the burnet rose / in the heat of Midsummer"  -- these are more of the nature image lines which turns to something with more gravity with, "Of dead and unborn: Strange and sweet/ equally"  to the more personal, "And familiar, / To the eye, / As the dearest faces" to the reverence, "As the earth which you prove / That we love"  So that whole second stanza weaves in how words can affect the speaker -- note not the reader necessarily although I believe that the connection is there.

Why do I note that, it's because the the focus in the next stanza is how words affect the speaker. Where as the previous stanza focused on "I know you" the definition of words, the muse:

     Make me content
     With some sweetness
     from Wales
     Whose nightingales
     Have no wings

Here further wants the effect of words to branch out to Wales by using a metaphor and other places like "From Wiltshire and Kent / And Herefordshire / And villages there."

But then the poem goes back to the personal, the fun with "Let me sometimes dance / with you,"  which escalates to something more personal:

     In ecstasy,
     Fixed and free
     In a rhyme,
     As poets do.

The comparative metaphor still refers to speaker, poet, and language, but this shows more of the speakers mindset towards language and his distance from places.  Here, the speaker applies sexual connotations to the language, and here there's a sort of proclamation that poets are in this sort of ecstasy as well.

I guess.

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