What Is the Importance of the Past in Edward Thomas' Gone, Gone Again?

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The past is a recurring theme in Thomas’ poetry. He feared the changes England was undergoing, both physical, as in ‘As the Team’s Head Brass,’ and social, seen in ‘Aspens’. His poetry often celebrates an England that is passing; a theme expressed in ‘Gone, gone again’. The past is the subject of the title and the opening line; the speaker is looks back on his life with feelings of regret and sorrow. Thomas gives the sense that a significant portion of time has passed by quickly with the repetition of the words "gone" and "again“. May, June, July, and August represent youth and the prime of life. By pairing these months with the phrase "gone, gone again“, Thomas emphasizes that a year has come and gone more than once. The structure of the phrase helps us realise that passage of time, which seems to be speeding up for this speaker, perhaps suggesting that youth has also passed. The second stanza shows that the past years were not significant, or not worth remembering, ‘not memorable’, indicating the speaker’s empty attitude to his past life. These feelings are metaphorically shown in ‘empty quays’, which also represents the social changes brought about by war. As in ‘Aspens’, where the once noisy smithy is silenced and ‘As the Team’s Head Brass,’ where the ploughman tells of his mate’s death and the ‘many lost’, to war, so the once-busy quays have been emptied of men. The unceasing movement of time from present to past is represented by the water metaphor, ‘rivers flow’. The poem moves from the past to the present, ‘now again’ and another characteristic motif, water, appears. The speaker’s sadness, also shown in ‘Melancholy’ and ‘Rain’ is represented by ‘harvest rain’. The Blenheim orange apple is a beautiful fruit, tinged with orange, but the speaker describes them as ‘grubby’ as they fall from the trees. These lines can be said to describe the moment
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