The Nature of Place in ‘The Chalk Pit’ by Edward Thomas and ‘The Woodpile’ by Robert Frost

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‘The Chalk Pit’ by Edward Thomas and ‘The Woodpile’ by Robert Frost are both about being transported to a specific place and these places have an effect on the speaker(s).

The setting of ‘The Chalk Pit’ is most likely at the foot of Wheatham Hill in Hampshire and nearby is an abandoned chalk mine. ‘The Woodpile’ is set in a frozen swamp/wood in wintertime. Both of the poems have similar settings and this verifies the fact that Frost and Thomas were both very similar people, both in poetry and in real life.

Both poems are arranged in one large stanza. This is to keep the conversational nature of ‘The Chalk Pit’ flowing and realistic. Although ‘The Chalk Pit’ is essentially one large conversation, there is evidence of this speech or thought in ‘The Woodpile’, i.e. in lines 2-3 when the speaker is deliberating over whether he should turn away or continue home. “I will turn back from here. No, I will go on farther – and we shall see.” The idea of a conversational nature being used is furthermore implied when the speaker says “and we shall see”. This draws the reader into the poem, and makes them feel more included in what’s happening. The dash being used as a pause also emphasises the length of time if takes the speaker to think about what he’s going to do, and makes the poem seem personal and accessible to the reader.

‘The Woodpile’ is written in the first person narrative and is similar to many of Frost’s other poems. However ‘The Chalk Pit’ is written from the point of view of two speakers. One speaker comes across as very down to earth and aware of what is around him, while the second speaker is more pensive, reflective and imaginative. The fact the poem is from two people’s perspective makes it stand out from other poems, ...

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...f the poem is very melancholy (“With the smokeless burning of decay”) and seems like a surprising way to end such a mellow and peaceful poem. ‘The Chalk Pit’ is similar in tone because the reader can imagine the speakers, speaker B in particular, using a soft voice so as not to metaphorically disturb the chalk pit. This adds to the ideas of two peaceful and undisturbed settings, in which nature and animals are at peace.

The most striking similarity between the poems is that they are both set in a similar landscape. This is possibly down to the fact that Frost and Thomas had similar writing styles and ideas; due to the fact they were lifelong friends. I believe that ‘The Chalk Pit’ and ‘The Woodpile’ are two very simplistic, accessible and vivid poems, which capture and hold the reader’s attention through the use of imagery and appealing to the reader’s senses.

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