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Regret in E.Thomas' Poems

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Introduction

Considering in detail one or two poems, discuss ways in which Thomas explores feelings of regret in his poetry. (And you, Helen) 'And You, Helen' was written a while after Edward Thomas' enlistment. It is in this somewhat unusual love poem that Thomas resigns to the fact that he has not been good to his wife, Helen. He admits that the pursuit of himself- his own ideal, has compromised his love for her. The poem deals with his own regret and the fact that, in his own selfish pursuit, he has jeopardised the happiness of their marriage. Written in free verse with Rhyming couplets, the poem is steady and thoughtful. He is reserved and calm in his acknowledgment that she has given up her youth, beauty and power for him. The poem opens with Thomas' admittance that, if he could, he would do anything for Helen to make up for what he has done, the ...read more.

Middle

He contemplates his memory, but struggles to revive certain parts of it. And so, as through the description of the poignant, bittersweet scent of the herb, the poet reveals the regret he feels about the loss of a memory from youth; we are reminded of his regret in 'And You, Helen', as he longs to go back to the past and give her back her youth. It is suggested that Helen wanted more children as the poet mentions giving her 'as many...as your heart might wish for.' Thomas also makes reference to giving her 'a far better art than mine can be...' in this, he acknowledges poetry as his craft, realising that it is through his pursuit of it that he has taken away, 'all that you have lost upon the travelling waters tossed or given to me...' ...read more.

Conclusion

Thomas wishes that his wife could have recognised what she was losing before it was too late; 'what you want and want it not too late.' And the idea that her love was wasted on him is touched upon as he mentions, 'Many days free from care/And heart to enjoy both foul and fair'. 'Foul and fair' being a quote from Macbeth reveals that he is a literary man. In this idea of wasted love is revealed the lovelessness in him: that which he wants to fix but cannot. And the poem ends with his acknowledgment that if he could find what is missing within himself, he would be able to fix what he has done. He objectifies the part missing, by naming it 'It' and through this we can see the link to 'The Other' as Thomas continues the futile search for the unknown within himself. ...read more.

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