Write a critical appreciation of Edward Thomas' poem 'October'.

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Michael Ugulini eNotes educator| Certified Educator

'October' by Edward Thomas is a two stanza, twenty-one line poem of the Blank Verse style. The first stanza of the poem is nine lines; the second stanza of the poem is twelve lines. The poem is written in the First Person Point of View. Edward Thomas was born in Lambeth, London in 1878; he died on April 9, 1917, killed in the war by a shell blast in the Battle of Arras.

The poem is a celebration of the beauty and natural wonder of the month of October. It celebrates the life of flora and fauna during this month that explodes with color and activity as the autumn season winds down and wildlife prepares for the coming winter. Thomas talks of a certain freedom in this temperate month with the line:

     The gossamers wander at their own will.

To the poet, this vibrant fall scene is "fresh again and new"; it's as if autumn has that alive and awakening feeling that is a characteristic typically of Spring. Therefore, to the poet, these two seasons have a similar effect on him. The poem articulates that the month of October is enchanting every time it comes around - no two October's are ever the same. The month of October continually surprises and engages people from year to year.

However, as the poem progresses, the reader can sense that the poet harbors some melancholic thoughts despite the grand beauty that surrounds him. He understands that he can in fact be as happy "as earth is beautiful,". Instead, he cannot help but have these more somber thoughts rise to the forefront, although he does not indicate the source or causes of his present state of mind.

The poet does look to the future - to a time when he can enjoy the month of October more fully. He states that he could enjoy it now if he were some other person, but being who he is, this is difficult at this time. He is hopeful that a day like this in the future, in October, will be a joyful day to him, no longer darkened by troubling thoughts that are currently plaguing his enjoyment of October.

'October' is a poem of wonderful succinctness. In less than two dozen lines, it clearly highlights the physical beauty of nature during the autumn, and then contrasts this physical beauty with the inner spiritual turmoil of man. In the end, it is a poem of hope, as the poet desires a return to glorious October days that he can enjoy with dignified abandon.