Here's a virtual movie of Edward Thomas reading his exquisite poem Rain

The soundtrack of this virtual movie is by the brilliant veteran English actor Paul R Webster one of the finest reciters of poetry I have ever heard. Paul has a wonderful youtube channel in which you can watch his amazing one man show "Hitler Alone" that centres on the thoughts of the evil dictators last hours in the bunker.Paul wrote this play 40 years before the recent brilliant German movie "Downfall" starring Bruno Ganz.

youtube.com/user/PaulRWebster

In this poem Thomas lies awake at night, listening to the rain falling onto the roof of the hut that he rests within. The rain and the poet's solitude prompt thoughts of those soldiers who are exposed to danger and death in the world outside.

Rain: This poem lies within a tradition of Romantic poetry wherein the solitary poet, contemplating or moved by nature, finds himself in connection with a wider world. Romanticism is one of the most broad and influential of all artistic and literary movements, beginning during the second half of the eighteenth century, and placing great emphasis on individual insight, feelings and imagination as a means of understanding the world. The Romantics revered nature as a source of beauty and 'numinous' experience— in nature they sensed the sacred, or God. 'The Sublime' was the name that was given for this sensation of connecting with a broader, more profound spiritual reality.

The rain in 'Rain', then, is a part of nature that allows the thoughtful and inward-contemplating Thomas to connect with the wider world (just as, for example, in Samuel Taylor Coleridge's 'The Eolean Harp', the wind playing on harp strings prompts the poet to wonder if he responds to nature similarly). Like the Romantics, Thomas finds an inspiration in nature that leads him via his memories, emotions and thoughts to a new understanding of the world around him. Where he diverges most clearly from the Romantics in 'Rain' is an absence of the sublime, or an explicitly spiritual dimension. Instead, in the contemplation of his death and that of others, this late Romantic poem embraces existential questions and modern alienation-- in other words, the problem of finding a meaning for human existence in a seemingly hostile world.

STRUCTURE: 'Rain' is written in blank verse— Iambic Pentameter without rhyme. This is one of the most common verse forms in English, but Thomas experiments with it very effectively. He plays with the rhythm and intensity of each line through a number of different means, each intended to give a sense of the increasing and decreasing intensity of the rain on the sounding walls of the hut, and the poet's response to this. To create this effect, Thomas uses repetition, clever internal rhyming and also uses the spondee— a metre where two syllables within a foot have equal weight. Another feature of the poem is that it is a monologue, giving us entry into Thomas' thoughts in solitude, in which the reader is an implied listener— 'hearing' the immediate fears and thoughts of the poet.

Philip Edward Thomas (3 March 1878 -- 9 April 1917) was an Anglo-Welsh poet and essayist. He is commonly considered a war poet, although few of his poems deal directly with his war experiences. Already an accomplished writer, Thomas turned to poetry only in 1914. In 1915, he enlisted in the British Army to fight in the First World War and was killed in action during the Battle of Arras in 1917, soon after he arrived in France.

Kind Regards

Jim Clark
All rights are reserved on this video recording copyright Jim Clark 2013

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