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Edward Thomas is frequently considered one of the British World War I poets, although he was older than most of them and had come late to the poetic scene Thirty seven years old when he volunteered to fight, this Anglo Welsh writer was a husband and father who need not have enlisted at all Throughout his career as a writer he had been primarily an essayist and had turned to writing poetry only in 1914 He was killed soon after arriving in France in 1917.Few of Thomas s poems refer explicitly to the War, unlike the poetry of Graves, Brooke, Sassoon, or Owens, for example His work is primarily pastoral, much in the tradition of Wordsworth a century earlier, and when reading Thomas I am also reminded greatly of the poetry of the contemporary Thomas Hardy, another writer who turned to poetry after having established his literary credentials in other genres Like Hardy, Thomas wrote poetry that sometimes stretched the rigorous constraints of formalism, although his work is less adventurous than that of Hardy And unlike Hardy s poems, his tone is generally less bitter and biting even when often somber and wistful.Reading his poetry, I found myself often encountering poems pleasant but not particularly remarkable And then suddenly I would be brought up short by an entire short poem or often a sentence or even short phrase that was startling in its intensity and originality Here are a few examples Open your eyes to the airThat has washed the eyes of the starsThrough all the dewy night Another I could not return from my liberty,To my youth and my love and my misery.The past is the only dead thing that smells sweet,The only sweet thing that is not also fleet I m bound away for ever, Away somewhere, away for ever And again And I am nearly as happy as possibleTo search the wilderness in vain though well,To think of two walking, kissing there,Drenched, yet forgetting the kisses of the rain Sad, too, to think that never, never again,Unless alone, so happy shall I walkIn the rain And finally One thing remains the same this my right handCrawling crab like over the clean white page,Resting awhile each morning on the pillow,Then once starting to crawl on towards age.The hundred last leaves stream upon the willow Thomas s poetry is well worth exploring The reader will encounter few startling revelations but many poignant insights, small jewels that remain long in the mind and in the heart. One hundred years ago this month, during November 1914, at the age of 36, Edward Thomas wrote his first poem He was killed at the battle of Arras in April 1917 Meaning he had to fit his entire life s work as a poet into a mere twenty seven months Fortunately, the poems came fast, sometimes at the rate of one a day And even when he commenced upon his short life of soldiering, this pace barely decelerated until he was within months of that Easter Monday when a shell passed so close to him that the blast of air stopped his heart, causing him to fall forever without a mark on his body The body of work he left behind, despite the circumstances under which it was created, remains peerless These are poems to read and reread and carry throughout life, and this beautiful edition from Faber is the perfect vessel in which to carry Thomas s words Everything about this book deserves praise, from the hue of green chosen for the cover to the spacing between the lines The book also includes the poet s War Diary of 1917, written in a small 3in x 5in pocket book, written in cramped handwriting with numerous abbreviations, not easy to read with the naked eye, and in places almost indecipherable thanks to thin ink and such heavy creasing that it seems likely that Thomas was carrying the diary the morning he died Here we have it rescued from the morass of time and death, and regardless of brevity it is profoundly moving. Contents Introduction by R George Thomas, then 1983 Professor of English at University College, Cardiff very useful and interesting 12 pages.Biographical Outline of Edward Thomas life.Poems 1914 15 1915 78 1916 50 1917 1 Edward Thomas was killed on Easter Monday, 9th April 1917.Notes on poems 46 informative pages Appendix Diary of Edward Thomas 1 January 1917 8 April 1917Index of First LinesMy random thoughts, rather than a review..Thomas would, I feel, appreciate the cover on my copy , a reproduction of Sudden Storm , a watercolour by a young Paul Nash, 1918, who E.T knew The book is a fine and worthy memorial to E.T., satisfying to read and to own I m very pleased to have read it after Matthew Hollis s book about Thomas, All Roads Lead to France I felt to relate much sympathetically to Thomas after reading his diary which shows a practical self assured individual than the neurotic self doubting poet, author and critic we see in Hollis pages He is a man at ease with himself and good at his new job, so very different from what he had done before In its matter of factness I found the diary very moving For me, above all else, he was a man of nature in the same way as Thomas Bewick was 100 years past Bewick engraved, Thomas wrote In his diary E.T constantly refers to wildlife in and around the trenches and ruined French villages where he spent the last days of his life.For me his poems are a mixed bag some I loved, others much less so Some I found to be annoyingly cryptic Often there was a lack of directness, they didn t hit me hard compared say, with Owen Few, if any, of Thomas s poems are War poems , they are often quiet and contemplative Adlestrop is perhaps his best known and loved and most frequently found in anthologies Thomas life long interest in folk songs shows through in some of his poems he was a fine singer apparently I suspect that his influence on other writers and poets is not always recognised Did Thomas influence L P Hartley s opening lines of his novel The Go Between 1953 The past is a foreign country They do things differently there Thomas opening line of his poem Parting 1915 has The past is a strange land, most strange Thomas 1915 poem This is no case of petty right or wrong goes some way to explaining his reasons for volunteering to fight, much to the surprise of many of his friends This is no case of petty right or wrongThat politicians or philosophers Can judge I hate not Germans, nor grow hotWith love of Englishmen, to please newspapers..But with the best and meanest EnglishmenI am one in crying, God Save England, lestWe lose what never slaves and cattle blessed.The ages made her that made us from the dust She is all we know and live by, and we trustShe is good and must endure, loving her so And as we love ourselves we hate her foe. Edward Thomas Collected PoemsFirst, an apologia pro me I must be honest, Thomas s poems are a re read, having lived with them ever since I can remember But as part of this reading challenge I decided to do something I have never done hitherto and read them as a body of work, not as individual pieces The results were surprising and revealing It opened my eyes to the thematic preoccupations which intrigued Thomas throughout his life Thomas s poetry has received much attention in recent years with writers such as Robert Macfarlane bringing his work to wider attention Thomas, like Macfarlane is today, was an inveterate walker and much of his output was born of his epic walks around England The pulse of walking runs through his writing like a heartbeat it is the life force of his art To understand Thomas s poetry, we should first recognise that it represents only the last three years of what was a prolific, if short, life as a prose writer By the time he came to write his first stanza he was already the author of several masterpieces, In Search of Spring , The Icknield Way and The South Country , inter alia Above all, these works established him as a writer of rural life, of its people and its places It was Robert Frost who suggested that Thomas s elegiac prose style would lend itself admirably to poetry, and so late in 1914 he published his first set of verses, initially under the name Edward Eastaway He was perhaps both easily persuaded and daunted in equal measure, as he always considered poetry to be the highest form of literature Thomas is, of course, revered as a war poet alongside Owen, Sassoon, Blunden, Brooke and many others But even in this grave subject it is his close connection with the countryside and his feeling for its past that make his poetry stand apart Whereas Owen sighed that all a poet can do today is warn , Thomas both warns and crucially remembers the effect of war far from the battlefield itself Thus remembrance and loss these words are the refrain that are absorbed into one s psyche time and time again when reading Thomas Writing prose about the countryside had taught him close observation and a sense of the subtle changes, both seasonal and evolutional, that all rural landscapes undergo These changes inevitably give rise to the feelings of memory and the passing of all matter Even in In Memoriam Easter, 1915 the loss of men in war is related to the memory of their presence in a rural idyll The flowers left thick at nightfall in the wood This Eastertide call into mind the men,Now far from home, who, with their sweethearts, should Have gathered them and will do never again And, away from conflict, the simple transience of life in nature, in First Known when Lost I never had noticed it until Twas gone, the narrow copseWhere now the woodman lopsThe last of the willows with his billIt was not than a hedge overgrown.One meadow s breadth awayI passed it day by day.Now the soil is bare as bone, Throughout Thomas crystallizes his recollection with moments in the year s seasonal cycle as in The Word , I am content With the wild rose scent that is like memory The Path , The Combe and The Manor Farm and many other poems shaped by the memory of what has been but will be again So outwardly Thomas s concern with memory is a reading of the landscape gleaned not from stasis but a natural dynamic birth, death and life The wild rose is destined to fade, but spring will come again as it does in many of the poems In decline and death lie the vestiges of hope and renewal.Thomas too, was a ghost seer often in his work there are allusions to long disappeared people and places which, like revenants, linger still Here memory and loss re materialise as spectres In The Chalk Pit emptiness and silence and stillness haunt me some ghost has left it now even though past activity has been lost the spiritual essence remains It speaks too, of the impermanence of man against the continuity of immemorial nature Nowhere is the poignancy of memory and loss evident than in his most famous poem Adlestrop , composed on 24th June 1914 as his train made an involuntary stop at Adlestrop station Yes, I remember Adlestrop The name, because one afternoonOf heat the express train drew up thereUnwontedly It was late June.The steam hissed Someone cleared his throat.No one left and no one cameOn the bare platform What I sawWas Adlestrop only the nameAnd willows, willow herb, and grass,And meadowsweet, and haycocks dry,No whit less still and lonely fairThan the high cloudlets in the sky.And for that minute a blackbird sangClose by, and round him, mistier,Farther and farther, all the birdsOf Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire.The poem soon became a requiem for a world swept away by the First World War and is now tainted with the ironic reality that the railway station itself no longer exists, swept away by the Beeching cuts in the 1960s.Frost s great Poem The Road Not Taken 1916 was seen by Thomas as criticism of his indecisive nature and perhaps instrumental in his choosing to join up and fight in France, rather than follow Frost on his return to America Whatever the truth of it, the title had sad implications, because Thomas died on the Western Front in 1917 at the battle of Arras.Thomas has now taken his rightful place in the pantheon of English poesy his work appeared at a time when the modernist revolution in letters was taking hold, so in many ways it is seen as seminal Despite this, Thomas still managed a nostalgia for the past and a deep understanding of the countryside which survived this cultural shift, without ever descending into sentimentality His poetry manages to be accessible whilst simultaneously retaining that sense of mystery and wonder which all great observers of life possess There are no epic poems, nor gratuitous classical references here but the use of everyday language in pursuit of the reminiscences that all of us carry Little wonder that Ted Hughes described him as the father of us all This is a book for life. This moment brief between two lives from The Bridge ever since I studied Edward Thomas at Oxford and memorized The Bridge on a train from Oxford to Bath Thomas has become a guide and mentor to my poetics and life in many ways He is one of a few poets with whom I relate on so many levels and who made me see how beautiful poetry truly is and how it tells a story in a different way, his poems are a journal born of nature and walks in the rain, doubt and consideration blended in amazing structures Another great poetic voice silenced by WWI the trenches, but his poetry forever paints a journey to the borders of sleep and an England that exists still in the trees and the slow moving brook He is worth reading re reading. Beautiful, but they struck me as very sad. |Read ☹ Collected Poems: Edward Thomas (Faber Paperbacks) ♪ The Delphi Poets Series Offers Readers The Works Of Literature S Finest Poets, With Superior Formatting This Volume Presents The Complete Poetical Works Of Edward Thomas, With Beautiful Illustrations, Rare Texts And The Usual Delphi Bonus Material Version Beautifully Illustrated With Images Relating To Thomas Life And Works Concise Introduction To The Life Of Edward Thomas Excellent Formatting Of The Poems Special Chronological And Alphabetical Contents Tables For The Poetry Easily Locate The Poems You Want To Read Even Includes The Poet S Autobiographical Novella THE HAPPY GO LUCKY MORGANS Includes Thomas Letters Spend Hours Exploring The Poet S Personal Correspondence Features Thomas Autobiographies, Appearing Here For The First Time In Digital Print Discover Thomas Literary Life Scholarly Ordering Of Texts Into Chronological Order And Literary GenresPlease Visit Delphiclassics To Browse Through Our Range Of Exciting TitlesCONTENTS The Poetry Of Edward ThomasBRIEF INTRODUCTION EDWARD THOMASThe PoemsLIST OF POEMS IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDERLIST OF POEMS IN ALPHABETICAL ORDERThe NovellaTHE HAPPY GO LUCKY MORGANSThe LettersTHE LETTERS OF EDWARD THOMASINDEX OF LETTERSThe AutobiographiesHOW I BEGANTHE CHILDHOOD OF EDWARD THOMASPlease Visit Delphiclassics To Browse Through Our Range Of Exciting Titles I went in search of Thomas after I read Adlestrop and was mesmerized by its numinous quality I experienced these poems as a record of a beautiful consciousness that held the living world infinitely dear. I love that the other review for this collection just says Not as moving as I had hoped Yeah, I don t know, I ve always loved Thomas Far from producing amoral war poems, Thomas sidesteps the conventional moral crisis of war and the paradox of living to die by setting down a higher kind of morality Thomas s poems are skeptical of self knowledge and elevate direct phenomenological experience as a credible informant on what it s like to be alive on earth, and to be human in a human society, and to be a soldier And he wrote everything that he wrote in SUCH a short amount of time He puts me to shame AND this collection is under 2 dollars 2 dollars It s a glorified PDF, sure, that s true But until a beautiful collected works of Edward Thomas is made available I ll take what I can get. I had not heard of Edward Thomas before reading The Old Ways by Robert MacFarlane several years ago Macfarlane s recommendation was enough for me to buy this when I came across it in a used book store Thomas was primarily a nature and travel writer, who later turned to poetry, and his love of nature shines out in almost every poem He was a good poet, though not a great one, I think I had trouble understanding what he was getting at in a few of them, and they all benefitted from than one reading But there were times when a phrase or an image was so beautiful, so spot on, so perfect, that all I could do was think Yes What might he have written had he not been killed in World War I I liked his poetry enough that I want to read his prose, and find out about him.