The poem ‘But These Things Also’ Essay
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Thomas has a very distinctive eye for the miniature of nature, often overlooked by others. Explore his appreciation of the natural world in the poem ‘But These Things Also.’
Thomas throughout his collection of works has a very clear and distinct appreciation for nature which he wishes to explore it in all its glory and becomes a recurring theme. He consistently urges ‘man’ to look at the beauty of nature and the effect it has on the natural world. He expresses his application through the words of a poet and tries to do the endless wonder that is nature justice.
In ‘but these things also’ he especially highlights the impact nature has on the audiences’ life and gives his personal account of the relationship he has with nature and in particular spring.
Written in 1915, Thomas has not yet enlisted this is important as although not directly about war, the comparison of winter and spring could be his suggestion that the seasons are more than just seasons but a symbolic representation of life and death, not just in the natural world but also within human life.
This could be taken as Thomas commenting on how life and in a sense goes so quickly by like the seasons themselves, therefore liking it to the war and his confusion of whether to enlist.
The tone of the poem on a whole is relatively pessimistic to mains appreciation of nature. He begins the opening line almost defining the characteristics of Spring, that he and spring are almost linked with the use of the world ‘also’, an attempted to glorify spring itself. It then moves onto something slightly more sinister in the grass is ‘long dead’ – something which is not normally attributed to spring itself which is seen as the coming of new life and rejuvenation. This is Thomas saying to the audience that is we do not see the beauty of nature then it may as well be dead to us like in ‘winter is was’ as it would have no purpose if the aesthetic is not glorified.
The use of enjambment helps the poem to build in crescendo effect. For example ‘and starling flocks by chattering on and on keep their spirits up in the mist,’ this is done for two purposes. Firstly to expresses Thomas’ exasperation at humans for not noticing nature; he continues on his train of thought without taking a moment to breathe. Moreover he uses it to enable to the beauty of the ‘starling flocks’ to have an impact on the audience. He doesn’t just want the audience to notice nature he wants them to bask in it, and by using enjambment he is able to have the continuous train of thought so people can experience its beauty without interruption.
It is also important to look at the reason for Thomas describing the birds as ‘chattering on and on’. This can be seen as a representation of the rest of the world’s complete disregard for its beauty. They do not take the time to just stop and look but continue on with their daily lives missing the important things i.e. nature. Furthermore birds are a reoccurring theme which Thomas uses throughout his body of works as a symbolism of the soldiers and of mankind as a whole. In words, a poem which has a lot of similarities to this as both emphasise the beauty and complexity of a ‘thing’, Thomas refers to the words as ‘nightingales’ in order to represent their freedom. This is similar this this poem as Thomas is showing the beauty and freedom of nature on a whole through the use of a bird.
He uses the power of the second stanza to try and emphasize the things that he himself notices that are beautiful in the world. ‘The chip of flint and mite of chalk’ very menial things in the sense of the entire world but for Thomas they are the ones which matter the most, the minute detail as it is. He even shows his appreciation for ‘the small birds’ dung’ something which would never in a normal context be seen as something to look highly upon. However for Thomas it makes up the natural world. ‘a man mistakes’ shows Thomas imploring the audience to not always see these sorts of things as bad but look at them in the sense of art which is adding to beauty.
This could also be seen as a representation of the blots on the world as a whole, a critic of them almost. The ‘splashes of white’ can be taken as the impurities that man himself carelessly inflicts on nature. The ‘ruins’ that the violets seek through are these impurities, and only that nature of beauty itself can purify them totally. Given the context this could be the blot of war but also symbolism for the blood shed from war and how it is dampening nature and losing it altruistic qualities.
The symbolism of the violets is key in this poem. It links into to Thomas direct use of flowers/herbs and is used an imagery device. He does this similarly in the poem ‘March’ where he references the primroses, and in ‘Old Man’ were the initial is an herb in itself. Violets are the first flowers to bloom in spring time and are therefore the first hope of life. This is something which is a parallel with hat of March. It contrasts the darkness of winter with the light and hope of spring. ‘To pay winters debts’ is the flowers and therefore nature in spring time making up for the darkness and the gloom of winter. It almost a like a reference to pathetic fallacy, for spring has to bring him joy in comparison to the dark gloomy days that winter brings.
The final line of ‘but these things also’ highlights the emphasis that Thomas wishes to place on the beauty of nature and how so many of us miss it in the everyday world. He is not just glorifying spring he is also glorying winter. ‘Springs here, winter not gone’ he is stating that the beauty of nature is regardless of the seasons and each one holds a new treasure which man must appreciate.
This is similar to the poem ‘glory’ where he is trying to find the words to express his feelings towards nature but here he is saying that words nor seasons do not matter, nature in its full force is omnipresent. However this could also be read as the impacts of winters destruction and gloom are ever overshadowing the goodness of spring and the beauty of it. This can be translated into Tomas saying that man is missing out on the beauties of life; even when in full bloom spring cannot detract from the unhappiness in life, and especially war. It is his job therefore throughout this poem to try and make the audience see that there is so much goodness in the world and especially nature.
In conclusion Thomas’ use of the theme of nature and his appreciation of it is one which is diverse. His main aim it to try and have an impact on the audiences view of nature and let them see that this is not always destruction in the world even if it may appear that way on the surface. He attempts to show them his view of nature and how it personal makes him feel, whilst also showing them some of the beauties of the world which they may miss in everyday life due to the all-consuming war. He effectively uses pieces of imagery to enable the audience to picture nature and have it at the fore front of their minds. He explores the themes of nature, war and destruction, which is in keeping with his other body of works.