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Discuss 'The Cool Web' by Robert Graves and 'Words' by Edward Thomas.

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Introduction

Discuss 'The Cool Web' by Robert Graves and 'Words' by Edward Thomas. In their respective poems, the poets examine language and the importance of it in our life and culture. Robert Graves uses a metaphor of a 'web' to depict language, one that gives form, structure and release to daily events. The image of language being constructed like a 'web' is reflected in the structure of the poem, in iambic pentameter form. Graves describes in the first stanza how children are unable through words to describe 'how hot the day is'. They are completely dumb and unable to express their discomfort, and in this manner lessen its intensity. 'The black wastes of the evening sky' alludes also to the negativity and oppression that daily living inflicts. 'How dreadful the tall soldiers drumming by' reinforces this, suggesting war, reinforcing also the feeling of conflict and negativity. The second stanza turns the poem around, starting with 'But'. ...read more.

Middle

Graves' choice of elaborate words demonstrates the power of language. The final stanza is also a warning, a warning that without words and language to provide rationalisation, form and structure to our thoughts and emotions we 'shall go mad no doubt and die that way'. The poet is ambivalent in his viewpoint, arguing that we need a balance between verbosity and losing self-possession of our tongues, that without the escape language and poetry offers we are like children, dumb to express ourselves. In Edward Thomas' poem, 'Words', he suggests that eloquence and language are not voluntary. The poem uses enjambment, reflecting the flow of inspiration and free thought. Addressing words directly in his poem, he asks for inspiration: Will you choose Sometimes - (....) Choose me, You English words? Thomas insinuates that words choose the poet or writer, contrasting with Grave's opinion (as suggested in his poem 'The Cool Web') ...read more.

Conclusion

The verse describes natural beauty, depicting roses, yew trees, hills, and streams after rain - implying that words are also natural beauty. In the third stanza, Thomas alludes to the different dialects of Wiltshire, Kent and Herefordshire, drawing attention to the diversity of the English language. 'From the names, and the things / No less.' The final stanza eulogizes the act of writing a poem, addressing inspiration directly as 'you' again. Let me sometimes dance With you, Or climb Or stand perchance In ecstasy, Fixed and free In a rhyme, As poets do. Thomas personifies language and inspiration a tactile being, 'Let me sometimes dance / With you', also reflecting back on his previous description of poetry being dream-like, 'Or stand perchance in ecstasy'. 'Fixed and free' describes the rigid backbone of a poem, the technical structure and form, but also the freedom the language gives it. Rebecca Cottrell, 04 November 03 ...read more.

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