‘Haymaking’ is very typical of a poem by Edward Thomas. This is shown through many common devices that are present in ‘Haymaking’ as well as many of his other poems. I shall outline and elaborate these on these devices in this essay. ‘Haymaking’ is a description of a snapshot in time. There was a thunderstorm the night before and the reader is initially led to believe that the storm is the reason that everything is so still in the poem, but half way through the poem, Thomas begins to describe the activities of the Haymakers who are having a break in silence as they “leaned on their rakes”.Order now
So the stillness of the poem can work on many levels. There is the idea of the ‘calm after the storm’ and the Haymakers having a rest. Also, however, there is the fact that the poet, Edward Thomas, is writing his poem from a snapshot in time where if he was describing a photograph, everything would be still in the picture. One of the most recognisable devices that Edward Thomas uses in his poetry is referring to England as “old”. This could imply many things. Thomas could use the term “old” in the literal sense that it is ‘ancient’, ‘unchanging’ and with a ‘sense of permanence’ in the world even though it has been threatened by war.
It could also mean that England has grown wise due to its age and has experienced many things. As well as these ideas, Thomas comes across as very patriotic towards England. In ‘Haymaking’, Thomas refers to “All is old” so although he doesn’t actually say that England is old, we as the reader know that he is subtly including England. In ‘The Manor Farm’, Thomas directly refers to England as “Old already” with the use of a capital letter for “old” which helps to directly associate the word “old” with “England”.
Throughout much of his poetry, Thomas uses very in-depth descriptions of features of England such as the countryside and nature in general. He doesn’t just describe things literally as he sees them either. It is as though his descriptions are more his point of view of things. Such as in ‘Haymaking’ when he is describing the water in the mill as having “tossing crystals, happier than any crowd of children”. An identical device is used in the opening sentence to “The Manor Farm” where Thomas is describing the mud “ran and sparkled down each side of the road” as it defrosted.
In this case, the very elegant description that is used ‘glorifies’ mud and the reader almost forgets that it is mud that is being described. In many of Thomas’ poetry, he uses many references to the seasons and also the contrasts between them. An example in ‘Haymaking’ is when Thomas informs the reader that “the holly’s Autumn falls in June”. This forms a contrast between what we, the reader, normally associate autumn as being around September till November with June, that we regard as the start of summer.
‘March’ is all about spring and how Thomas knew that spring normally starts in March but because of the “cold burning” weather that was actually occurring, although he “knew that spring was coming” he knew it “had not come”. This also provides the effect of a contrast between seasons, in particular the contrast between the weather of spring and the season it follows on from, winter. In the majority of Thomas’ poetry, there is a reference to the seasons or the weather which shows how typical a poem ‘Haymaking’ is.
Rarely in Thomas’ poetry does he refer directly to people and when he does, he always keeps his distance and limits their involvement in his poetry. This helps to emphasise his love of England, the countryside and nature. Frequently in his poetry, Thomas uses a clever technique of taking a snapshot of an image or scene he is viewing in his poetry, and then descriptively he “zooms in” or out of that image, going into more details about what he is witnessing along the way until he reaches a specific feature he was concentrating on in particular.
The best example of this is in ‘Haymaking’ where Thomas describes the location of the farmer’s house, “at the field’s far edge, the farmer’s home, a white house crouched at the foot of a great tree. ” The effect this has is creating an image for the reader of that snapshot picture “zooming-in” in our minds along with Thomas’ descriptions. Another popular device for Edward Thomas that also provides contrasts in much the same way as his contrasts with seasons is his use of binary opposition. He first uses it in ‘Haymaking’ during the opening two lines where he describes “After night’s thunder far away had rolled the fiery day…
” It is, however, just a contrast of the “night” and “day” rather than the individual descriptions of them as the “thunder” and “fiery” create a similar image to the reader. So far, I have concentrated on the visual descriptions and imagery that Thomas’ poetry creates. Thomas uses phonetics a lot in his poetry too to help “build the picture” of the poem with its sights and sounds in the readers mind. In ‘Haymaking’, one of his most effective uses of sound is when he indirectly links the sounds of the watermill. He first describes the “mill-foot water” that “tumbled white and lit with tossing crystals.
Then immediately after Thomas describes the children as “pouring out of school aloud”. This creates amplifies the sound to the reader of the vast amounts of water at and surrounding the mill and the gushing noises it creates as it runs up and down the mill wheel. The sounds created in ‘Adlestrop’ is through the use of onomatopoeia where the trains “steam hissed”. The poem, ‘Haymaking’ is very typical of Thomas’ poetry as the majority of techniques used in his poetry feature in this one. However, in a few of Thomas’ poems, there are subtle parts that could be linked to war and battle; there do not appear to be many references in ‘Haymaking’.