What are the main themes of the poem "March" by Edward Thomas?

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vangoghfan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Edward Thomas’s poem titled “March” celebrates the coming of spring, but it does so by emphasizing the passing of winter. Indeed, the main theme of the poem is announced explicitly in its very opening lines:

Now I know that Spring will come again,
Perhaps to-morrow: however late I've patience
After this night following on such a day. (1-3)

Apparently the preceding twenty-four hours have given the speaker reason to feel confidence that although spring has come later than usual this year, it is finally about to arrive.

No sooner does the speaker announce his anticipation of spring, however, than he dwells in great detail on the harshness of the preceding winter (4ff.). Indeed, although the title of the poem is “March,” most of the work deals with the wintry weather that precedes the advent of spring. It is such harsh, unpleasant weather, after all, that makes the coming of spring seem so welcome and so precious, and perhaps there is even a pun on the title “March,” which obviously refers to the third month of the year but which may also imply the steady, forward movement of time.

Just as the speaker himself has waited for the coming of spring, so the poem makes its readers wait as well. The speaker briefly describes what seems to be spring-like weather (7-9), but then he snatches that fleeting possibility away: “But ’twas too late for warmth” (10). He then describes bitter, wintry weather:

The sunset piled
Mountains on mountains of snow and ice in the west . . . . (10-11)

The coming of spring is thus delayed and postponed in the poem, just as it was delayed in the progress of the actual year.

In the meantime, as both we and the speaker anticipate spring’s arrival, the speaker describes the lives and behavior of birds, who sang, if only briefly, even during the depths of winter. The noises they made were not always superficially attractive (“they sang or screamed”[25]), but they nevertheless struck the speaker as beautiful (“to me all was sweet: they could do no wrong” [27]), if only because their music suggested the survival of life and song even in winter, and if only because their music hints that spring will eventually arrive.




skampani | Student

Doubts :
1. Do you feel that the birds are keeping away death with their music as suggested by the line 24:
"So they could keep off silence"

2. why do you feel that the birds "screamed"

3. Do you feel that the birds just had one hour to live?
line-18 "They had but an hour to sing"