“As the teams Head-Brass” was written by Edward Thomas during the First World War. He based his poem on the affects of war for people on the front and people at home. A lady called Sara Teasdale wrote “There will come soft rains… ” It is based on the after effects of war from a woman’s point of view. “As the teams Head-Brass” is based on the affects of what war did to nature and for the human race. In the first stanza a man speaks of watching men known as the “teams head brass”. He was sat upon a “fallen elm” where he watches the “ploughman” work.
It is obvious from the quotation “the horses turned/instead of treading me down” that this man feels that he was being pressurised into something. In this case it was avoiding war. It was on his mind throughout the first stanza of this poem. Thomas used phrases to put the views of the war such as: “Scraping the share” in the readers mind. This gives a painful action of what it was like in this man’s conscience, the reader obviously understood it that he was not in favour of the Great War.
However, when he spoke about the ploughman, he said they talked about the “weather, next about the war”. This must have meant that the workers thought differently to the man. Nature must have come first for the ploughman because if the weather was poor it would be disaster for their industry. This idea of catastrophe showed that the man who watched the ploughman was comparing that type of work to a battlefield; “Watched the plough narrowing a yellow square”. In the second stanza, there is a double meaning in the very first line; “The blizzard felled the elm whose crest”.
In one way the reader would understand it to be that the blizzard killed the tree in the natural sense of the sentence. Nevertheless, it could have also meant war such as a fallen soldier or a hell forsaken battle field where there was only mud throughout the landscape. The destruction can also be linked to ploughing in the way in which it destroys nature. Another war idea which Thomas leaves in the readers imagination is the quotation, “I sat in, by a woodpecker’s round hole”. This also symbolised the trenches where men were fighting on the Western Front.
When the man spoke with the ploughman they began by talking about when the tree would be moved, “When will they take it away? ” The man found out that they could not move the tree because men were at war. This could have also meant the way in which man would not heal until the war was over; “When the war’s over”. When the conversation became more personal the ploughman asked if the man went to war, “Have you been out” the conversation turned into a more aggressive temperament as soon as the man said “No”. The man made a joke in this quotation: “I could spare an arm…
If I should lose my head, why, so, /I should want nothing more… ” There is black humour in this extract, this might have been because he was covering his fear and guilt of what might had happen to him if he did go to war. This was also propaganda of the time to make able bodied men feel guilty for not helping the war effort. The ploughman felt that the man was a traitor for the country especially after many people had died including his friend; “my mates is dead”. He underestimates the amount of people that died to state a point to the man, “Yes, a good few”.
The ploughman said that they were brave men to show the man that because he was not going he was merely a coward. There are many messages in this poem put across by Thomas. One of which is how he portrays the judgement of leaders in the British Army. When the ploughman said his friend died he blamed it on someone; “they killed him”. The word “they” could mean many things such as the German army or the pompous leaders of the British Army. Both were the fault of many casualties of World War One. The poem is framed by lovers; “The lovers disappeared” and “The lovers came out of the wood again”.
Thomas did this to show the reader that normal life still goes on outside of the battlefields and that people love the brave soldiers fighting on the front line. In the quotation: “I should not have sat here. Everything/ Would have been different. ” The man is thinking about if he went to war, he might have died. Thomas further emphasises this idea in the last two lines where there is internal rhyming to signify falling; “clods crumble and topple over”. The man, again, feared for his life after he thought about going to war.
“There will come soft rains… was written after World War One whereas “As The Teams Head -Brass” was written during the conflict. Teasdale began the poem with nature, “There will come soft rains”. The idea of “soft” might be because that the writer wants to treat nature with delicacy rather than the destruction which war had caused. Alliteration and sibilants were used in this poem to create sounds of war; “shimmering sounds” and “feather fire”. No alliteration is used in Thomas’s poem. Instead he uses symbolism and imagery to get a message through to the reader. For instance, the blizzard symbolises death.
The nature was of rural England, like Thomas’s poem, it shows the problems at home and how people were suffering. The reader knows that it was heavily based on nature because in every stanza there is a reference to nature such as; “swallows calling” and “wild plum trees”. Teasdale deliberately used spring as the time of year which this poem was set in. She did this because winter is the period when plants and nature die or hibernate. This could be compared to what war did to nature. Needless to say, spring is when the environment begins to heal during a year.
This could have also meant how the human race should learn from their mistakes and recover from the immense tragedy which occurred in the Great War; a start of a new era: “And Spring herself, when she woke at dawn,/ Would scarcely know that we were gone. ” This is a quite different approach to “As the Teams Head-Brass” because in that poem they were destroying the nature with the ploughman. The writer makes the purpose of nature always prevailing over humanity by saying, “not one/ Will care at last when it is done” because the land will be reconciled by nature.
In each stanza there is a double meaning between nature and war. On lines three to four we see that frogs were “in the pools singing at night”. This could have also been imagery of soldiers singing hymns in soaking trenches. In the next line it says “wild-plum trees in tremulous white” this gives the reader the idea of a flare shining the midnight sky over the trenches. In “As the teams head-brass” there was a man, and in the second stanza a conversation, they both explain the problems of war and its tragedies. This was how Thomas puts his point of view to the reader.
After reading the two poems I believe that the poem which writes about nature and a rural scene most affectively is “As the Teams Head-Brass” This is because the rural scene of ploughing and nature is cleverly combined because of the use of imagery and symbolism to show the problems that war was having with the environment and the human race. It is more effective than “There will come soft rains… ” because it is far easier to understand what the writer is trying to tell you and that the points put across are more significant.