The poetry of Edward Thomas : a linguistic analysis of selected works : a thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in English

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Massey University
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In this thesis I have undertaken a linguistic/stylistic analysis of selected poems of Edward Thomas. Thomas wrote 144 poems in the two years prior to his death on active duty in France in April 1917 at the age of thirty nine. He was a contemporary of members of the various schools of poetry which existed at this time, the Georgians, the Imagists, the early Modernists and the war poets being the most important. He shared the concerns, philosophic, and linguistic, with all these groups, but was essentially a unique voice. He eschewed equally the decadence of the late - Victorians and what he considered the excesses of the Modernists. To say he steered a middle course is not to do him justice. He tenaciously steered his own course. Though appreciated by a small and largely insider group of literary critics, Thomas has been subject to unwarranted critical neglect. Surface readings of his works could bring accusations of a certain lack of colour and vitality. This combined with his refusal to be neatly categorized has contributed to his lack of status. I believe a true understanding of Thomas' works can only be achieved by a sustained linguistic analysis. I have concentrated on ten works which I consider demonstrate the variety of Thomas' linguistic modus operandi. For convenience sake, and for the sake of a unified approach, I have grouped these works according to the major thematic concerns. The War and its effects on society and the lives of individuals with 'As The Teams Head-Brass'; the War as a personal meditation with 'Rain'; roads and tracks as metaphors for life's journey with 'The Path'; sections of countryside as correlatives of inner vision with 'The Hollow Wood', 'The Barn' and 'Over The Hills'; the linking of names, smells and memory in 'Old Man' and finally the forest as exemplar of mystery and death in 'The Green Roads', 'Lights Out' and 'Out In The Dark'. My linguistic methodology has used as a main grammatical text Quirk and Greenbaum's A University Grammar Of English. I have drawn on the concepts of linguistic cohesion as discussed in Halliday and Hasan, and some reference has been made where appropriate to Charles Fillmore's theory of role relationships. Other grammatical and linguistic texts consulted are listed in 'The List Of Texts Cited'. The text of Edward Thomas' works throughout this study has been The Collected Poems of Edward Thomas, edited by Professor R. G. Thomas (1978).
Thomas, Edward, 1878-1917, Criticism and interpretation