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

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“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 of sibilance to carry the silence through the poem as it does in the places described in each poem.

Quatrain A, B, A, B combined with the iambic pentameter shows regularity in the stresses of the beat, which reflects the motion of the Aspens as they sway consistently in the breeze. Alternatively, the regularity in the rhythm could reflect the beat of the hammer of the Blacksmith’s, as mentioned in the second stanza to emphasise how the vignette was once active, busy and lively. This is also seen in the sonnet by Robert Frost, Acquainted with the Night, where iambic pentameter could have been used to reflect the constant depressive state the poet experienced at the time. This contrasts with another of Thomas’ poems, ‘Tears’, where his thoughts are disjointed and disorganised as he tries to recollect his memories. Thus the use of free verse and an 18 line stanza, unbroken, is appropriate as it reflects how he struggles to remember. Despite this, the whole stanza is in iambic pentameter but Thomas has used this technique in order to reflect what is going on in his memory. For example, the last 6 lines of the stanza regulate, as all are of the same length, which expresses the formality of the soldiers marching and their...
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