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Discuss the ways in which Thomas presents death in Lights Out

Throughout the poem Lights Out, Edward Thomas incorporates mane


techniques to present the concept of death itself. Through this, Edward Thomas
explores the extended metaphor of life as a journey, death in referral to sleep, the
element of individuality in life and the natural yearn for living. Therefore, it allows for
the reader to truly be immersed into the same thoughts and emotions of Thomas.
Contextually, we are aware that this was the last poem he wrote before going off the
war in France. Due to the heavy emphasis on death in Lights Out, it is arguable to
say that this poem holds more a modernist approach as it questions the meaning of
life, as influenced by the political context of war. We also know that Thomas suffered
from depression, and therefore, suicide could have been a question that played on his
mind quite frequently, however none the less would have impacted the way in which
he portrayed the world around him.
In elaboration of the extended metaphor of life as a journey, we first come
across it in the line That I may lose my way and myself. The syntax in this line
places emphasis on myself due to the rhyming of the other words and the
overpowering sounds of the vowels. We also see this extended metaphor in Old Man
when it mentions explicitly Only an avenue, dark, nameless, without end. The triadic
structure chances the semantics of the last line, and places emphasis on the without
end too, as the syllables build up towards the end of the line. As these two
quotations are the last two lines of the poem, it suggests that Thomas was portraying
death as an ultimatum that cannot be rejected. In addition, the regular rhyme
scheme places emphasis on the final line, how could have also been a device in which
Thomas portrays the regularity of death and how often ordinary people die, as a
simple element of life, that comes around whenever it does. Therefore, he feels as
though he is abandoning himself and his beautiful nature to death, by inscription in
the war. In terms of biographical context, it truly highlights his controversially
unpatriotic views towards the war and his involvement, possibly intensified due to his
depression. In is also arguable that Edward Thomas referred to death as sleep in many
areas of his poem.
We first see this in Lights Out when it states sleep that is sweeter than tasks
most noble which suggests that Thomas would prefer to escape through death than
endure the fighting in the war, and therefore wishes he could rest in peace. This also
highlights his unpatriotic spirit. Similarly, in Rain is mentions dying tonight of lying
here awake, and equally, in both quotations, the first and forth words rhyme which
places emphasis on the subject of sleeping and dying. Throughout the iambic
pentameter in Rain, it could have acted as a phonological device to mimic the rain but
also possibly the uncertainty of his mind and the constant battles with suicidal
thoughts, influenced by his depression and modernist mind concerning aspects of life
influenced by the war. We also are aware that in Rain, the rhyme scheme is largely
blank verse suggesting that death has the ability to hit us at unexpected moments
and it is entirely uncontrolled and spontaneous. Therefore, the reference to sleep as
death and the element of death in general incorporated into a poem proves very true
to modernism and a very typical feature to the literary time period.
Thirdly, is the way in which Thomas links death to solitude and individuality. In
Lights Out it mentions I must enter and leave alone highlighting the fact that birth
and death is entirely an experience of the individual and therefore, it is experienced in
different ways, accustomed uniquely to ourselves and therefore, we are never certain
of how it may affect us. Comparably, in Rain we come across a line that says born
into this solitude, which again supports the essence of individuality in life and death
but also pinpoints Thomass individual way in which he experiences life and death. It
also acts as a way in which Thomas devalues the importance and meaning of death,
because solitude is the way in which we die, which would suggest that Thomas is

already experiencing death, in the form of his everlasting solitude in his life. In
addition, it could allude to the fact that he is not simply alone but Thomas in fact does
not have anyone else left and this is all the more emphasised in the despair in his
tone. A technique that Thomas uses throughout Rain to highlight his sad tone is
pathetic fallacy. The Rain outside, can somewhat mimic the tears that Edward
himself was feeling and therefore urges the reader to empathise with him and truly
dive into the same emotions that he was feeling at the time of writing the poem.
Finally, despite Thomass efforts to argue that sleep is sweeter, he conveys a
sense of clinging onto life throughout the poem. It mentions That I may lose my way
and myself in Lights Out and this suggests that Thomas, through the act of losing
his way suggests that it was not intentionally meant to have been given up. This
therefore contradicts and assumptions that Thomas had been having suicidal
thoughts. We see the voluntary giving up of life in ? as it mentions Shall I ask at the
days end once more[]And shall I let go. Through this, it highlights the uncertainty in
his thoughts but also the ambiguity with whether his decision to go to war was tainted
with his personal dissatisfaction with life itself.
In conclusion, through the questions of the value of life, proves a very modern
technique in literature. It creates a very distinctive opposite to the early Romantic
poems that Thomas produced and this has all the more enforced this contrast. Edward
Thomas presents death through its many angles. As an avenue, he highlights the
journey of life, and how ultimately, it is arguable to say that death is our final
destination, therefore being an unworthy ultimatum. He also sheds light on the true
individuality of life and, no matter who we may have or not have around us, we enter
the world and leave this world alone. This is all the more enforced through the
emphasis of the rhyme scheme, and the changing of the semantics in line structure
alongside syntax and pathetic fallacy. Therefore, Edward Thomas presents death from
its many angles, and ends on a particularly negative tone, which could reflect his own
personal views towards life and death.