LETTERS BETWEEN EDWARD AND HELEN THOMAS

Edward Thomas is commonly considered a war poet, although few of his poems deal directly with his war experiences. In 1915, he enlisted in the British Army to fight in the First World War and was killed in action by an exploding shell at Arras on 9th April, 1917, soon after he arrived in France. Thus, this is why the extract states the place as being in Arras. It was written a couple of days before he died.

In response, his wife wrote a postscript that is somewhat like an epilogue featuring the date as being “April 9th to…” This was the date her husband died, and it is understood that “the way has been very difficult”. It was known that Helen struggled to cope after her husband’s death. In fact, her daughter, Myfanwy later said that the books had been written by her mother as a form of therapy to help lift herself from the deep depression into which she had fallen following Thomas’s death, therefore, this postscript could be an example of that.

Moreover, it would not have been uncommon for soldiers to reflect on the brutalities and losses that they faced during the war. Roughly 10 million soldiers lost their lives in World War I, and some turned to poetry, as a way of release from their horrific experiences.

And, in the case of Edward Thomas, his letter does not reveal the full extent of the brutalities he and his comrades will have faced. Hence, it was typical of war-time soldiers to distort the truth, in order to reassure family members and to keep them from worrying.

HELEN                                 220px-Thomasportrait

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