How does Edward Thomas present regret in Tears?

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Topics: Emotion, Conformity
How does Thomas present regret in “Tears”?
Written in January early 1915, Thomas was housebound due a badly sprained ankle and used the time to contemplate his future prospects. Regret is a prominent feature throughout “Tears” as the emotion was stimulated by his perceived failings in life: he was conscious he was yet to enlist to fight for his beloved country even though many of fellow “countrymen” had recently died in the Battle of Ypres; he was concerned with his inability to express emotions and overcome with the emotional turmoil associated with losing his best friend, Robert Frost, to America.
An element of regret is illustrated as he is not included in the unity associated with the “twenty hounds” and their common goal, however, he does not want to be affiliated with their jingoist and conformist attitudes. This conflict was a key dilemma in the decision about whether or not to enlist and is illustrated in the idea that they were all “equals in their rage of gladness”. The oxymoron reiterates the turmoil faced by Thomas in his decision, as, in one regard he is envious of the “gladness” associated with their equality however he is also extremely critical of the animalistic “rage” which is strengthened by the assonance within “gladness” and “rage”. Thomas frequently argued with his jingoist Father and despised his, and many others, blind conformity and was therefore very conscious of not becoming another one of the nameless “soldiers in line” who had lost their individual identity. He suggests many of the “soldiers in line” are “fair haired and ruddy” perhaps suggesting they are young and naïve. Furthermore, they are wearing “white tunics” a colour usually associated with purity however Thomas is perhaps suggesting, and also criticising, the destructive nature of war upon purity and youth.
Throughout the poem, Thomas appears regretful and also ashamed of the loss of humanity in light of man’s new found capabilities for destruction and devastation. Thomas

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