Home by Edward Thomas is an ode to the place he feels most comfortable in the world – home. It touches on themes of nature and humanity, and how they can coincide in harmony in special locations.
Edward Thomas comes home from ‘somewhere far’ and remarks at how peaceful he feels now he is back. Nature seems beautiful and endless, humans are comfortable and at peace. Home is somewhere special to Thomas, with even the silence being a force of comfort. He remarks how everything seems so much more familiar when at home, even the seasons taking on a different form.
You can read the full poem here.
Home by Edward Thomas is split into four stanzas of 6 lines each. There is a rhyme between the second and the sixth line of each stanza, giving the poem a sense of harmonic cohesion. This repeated rhyme gives the poem a sense of familiarity, the balance and continuation of the technique allows for a sense of comfort and peace to be invoked. Indeed, this mirrors the general theme of being at home, somewhere where you feel comfortable and things are more familiar.
Building on the aforementioned idea of rhyme scheme, the poet also uses enjambment to allow the lines to flow from one to another. This creates a melody through the meter, with the poem reflecting a sense of comfort through its regular and open structure. Even the lack of change within the length of the stanzas is another form of creating this structure, the poem is unchanging and familiar, much like a home should be.
Use of pronoun is also another technique that Thomas uses the make the poem seem more peaceful. The grouping of nature and humanity under the umbrella pronoun of ‘we’ allows for them to be presented as a cohesive community. Both nature and man happily coinciding together in this little place Thomas calls ‘Home’.
Often I had gone this way before:But now it seemed I never could beAnd never had been anywhere else;‘Twas home; one nationalityWe had, I and the birds that sang,One memory.
The first word of the poem instant invokes a sense of familiarity, ‘often’ suggesting that the poet has done this journey many times and is confident with the route, he is after all on his home territory. Once the poet arrives home, he suggests that it ‘seemed I never could be / and never had been anywhere else’, his home has not changed and is familiar to him. Indeed, he presents the idea that it seems that it is almost as if he has never been anywhere else, instantly recognising his surroundings and how things have always been. The idea that he would rather be here than ‘anywhere else’ instantly suggests that he loves being home, the feeling of peace and order established being something that comforts him.
The contraction into ‘’twas home’ suggests a level of familiarity, he is about to shorten and speak freely when at home. Indeed, everything at home is of ‘one nationality’, all feeling comfortable. This extends even into nature, with Thomas suggesting that ‘We had, I and the birds’ are all of one mind. They work together, all ‘sing[ing]’ the praise of ‘home’. They become one, all having knowledge of this place under ‘one memory’. This cohesion between nature and man is Romantic in practise, elevating the beauty of this place even further.
They welcomed me. I had come backThat eve somehow from somewhere far:The April mist, the chill, the calm,Meant the same thing familiarAnd pleasant to us, and strange too,Yet with no bar.
He is instantly ‘welcomed’ back into his home when he arrives, ‘they welcomed me’ initiating him into this sense of community through the close proximity of the pronouns, linking ‘they’ and ‘me’ through the kind action of ‘welcomed’.
The use of enjambment following ‘I had come back / That eve’, followed to the end of the line without any punctuation, is a representation of the journey he has made. Being one of the longest lines in the poem, his journey home seems arduous compared to the state of bliss he has returned to.
Indeed, even ‘The April mist’ seems more familiar now he is home, the ‘chill, the calm’ being something he understands now that he is in a known location. Whereas this ‘chill’ might be something upsetting or discomforting in another location, he understands what it means and how to approach it in his own home, being happy for the ‘thing familiar’. The experience of being home is ‘pleasant to us’, already Thomas has been incorporated into the community, ‘us’.
The thrush on the oaktop in the laneSang his last song, or last but one;And as he ended, on the elmAnother had but just begunHis last; they knew no more than IThe day was done.
The continual force of nature is explored within this stanza of the poem. It seems that at any moment a bird might sing its final note, yet there is always another to take up the music, the harmonic performance of nature elevating the beauty of ‘home’, a place filled with birdsong. Indeed, while the ‘Thrush’ is about to ‘sing his last song’, he suddenly decides to sing another, ‘or last but one’, nature continually renewing and reviving itself. When ‘The thrush’ finally does stop its ‘song’, Thomas states that ‘Another had but just begun’, birdsong being presented as a constant background noise within this harmonious location.
Neither Thomas nor the birds know when this tune will really come to an end, being reflected within the metaphor of ‘the day’ being ‘done’. ‘They knew no more than I’, man nor nature truly understanding the magic of the place they are in, only seeing that nature continues to renew itself. Although the ending of ‘the day’ could be seen as something negative, I would instead argue that due to the continual force of nature, it is instead something to be looked forward to, with Thomas knowing that everything will begin again the next day.
Then past his dark white cottage frontA labourer went along, his treadSlow, half with weariness, half with ease;And, through the silence, from his shedThe sound of sawing rounded allThat silence said.
The final stanza focuses on a character which is not nature or Thomas himself, instead looking at ‘A labourer’ that is walking through the village. We can assume that the ‘labourer’ is old, judging by his ‘slow’ moments, ‘half with weariness’. This suggests that the ‘labourer’ has been living there for some time, further insinuated by the fact that his ‘tread’ is ’half with ease’, Thomas saying that the familiarity the ‘labourer’ has with the area meaning that his journey from his house is easier. Even the very ground they walk upon is something unchanging and permanent, the comforting embrace of nature seemingly encapsulating the village completely. He walks to ‘his shed’, helped by nature, and then begins to work, ‘the sounds of sawing’ heard. The final image is very harmonious, the birdsong echoing in the background while ‘the labourer’ begins to work. Thomas loves his home, trying to bring the reader into his understanding by elevating the beauty of the landscape, both through visual and aural depictions.