‘Slough’ is more a mixture of comments and opinions on society it’s falsehood/artificiality. The author has clearly got a communist attitude, agreeing to equal classes, rights and incomes and targeting the rich and important: “And get that man with double chin Who’ll always cheat and always win, Who washes his repulsive skin In women’s tears… ” The poems seem to reflect the life and upbringing of their author; for example soil, tractors, hens, fields and swedes are all small parts of farm life of which Thomas would have been accustomed to; living and serving in an agricultural community.
Betjeman was more of a ‘townie’ as he attended Oxford University and lived in the Oxford area and sub-urbs for some time. Thomas probably did not get the chance to go to university or learn much about city life, so his poetry is centred around things that he understands and knows best, like religion. Although ‘Slough’ is not focused on anything particularly biblical, it does contain some slight bible parallels. The idea of the bombs falling on Slough and wiping it out is similar to the story of Noah’s ark, when God decided to give the earth a ‘clean sweep’ and start again.
This was done to put all the mistakes of man in the past. The same idea occurs in ‘Slough’, to clear the world of “that rich man with double chin” and make a fresh start, but to spare the hand working, poor clerks. The clerks represent Noah and his animals, which were taken on the ark and saved from God’s ‘ex-o-sketch remake of the world’. Interestingly, ‘Slough’ and ‘Soil’ both have similarities to George Orwell’s novel ‘Nineteen eighty-four’, in the way that a sense of entrapment, or the knowledge of a higher being is present.
This is just like the atmosphere in Nineteen eighty-four, being unable to escape the eyes of Big Brother and The Thought Police. In ‘Soil’ there is a definite awareness of a higher being above the worker, “This his world, the hedge defines… only the sky is boundless, and he never looks up… ” He is enclosed and contained by his boundaries (hedges) and can be viewed only by that above him. Overall the poems are of a completely different sort, style and address different issues. The authors write in their own individual ways and use words in contrasting ways for their desired affect.
This is expected as the authors have completely divergent backgrounds and education, and no two poems can ever be the same. However, it is interesting to see the different approaches the authors take to create the environment of their poems, like the sense of entrapment found in both ‘Soil’ and ‘Slough’, with actual material boundaries (‘Soil’) and verse structure and repetition (‘Slough’). Although the authors may share similar opinions and may share the same morals and messages, the poems by Thomas and Betjeman are understandably more different than alike in the ways of structure, style and content.