He concluded that "ideas of England" depend on "a system of vast circumferences circling round the minute neighbouring points of home". This became a template for poems such as "Adlestrop". Similarly, when compiling his wartime anthology This England, Thomas omitted "professedly patriotic writing" and refused to aim at "what a committee from Great Britain and Ireland might call complete".
He wrote one "professedly patriotic" poem, "This is no case of petty right or wrong", but it attacks pro-war propaganda - "I hate not Germans" - and tries to detach patriotism from jingoism. According to Frost, Thomas's poems should be called "Roads to France". Yet, like all his poetic quests, this journey proceeds dialectically.
Soon after "This is no case of petty right or wrong", he wrote "Rain", where the war dead are "Myriads of broken reeds all still and stiff". His "England" is also dialectically conceived: The relation between "points of home" and further belonging remains in question. In "Lob", Thomas fancifully touches base with English tradition, represented as fluid traffic between landscape, language, folk culture and literary culture.
The figure of Lob ultimately personifies poetry and its role in collective memory: Packed with literary allusions, the poem implies that Thomas's own poetry is partly a form of cultural defence. That is, it involves a recall or call-up of English poetry. This is one reason why he builds folksong into his poetic foundations, why he ranges across the formal spectrum. In defending the English lyric - mainly by reanimating it - Thomas knew that its structures had been pitched into the war's vortex.
But poems such as "Rain" and "Wind and Mist" convey dissolution without quite dissolving the means of doing so.
In its public aspect, Thomas's concern with memory expresses the historical moment to which his poetry belongs. Safe resting there Men hear in the travelling air But music, pictures see In the same daily land Painted by the wild air. Bobby Fairfield February 11, at 5: Clean and clear and sweet and cold, They shine above the earth so old, While the after-tempest cloud Sails over in silence though winds are loud, Till the full moon in the east Looks at the planet in the west And earth is silent as it is black, Yet not unhappy for its lack. Guardian News and Media. And I am nearly as happy as possible To search the wilderness in vain though well, To think of two walking, kissing there, Drenched, yet forgetting the kisses of the rain:
Like Yeats and Wilfred Owen, as well as Frost, Thomas adapted poetic syntax and symbolism to the new century. Yet he is often seen as an isolated figure or sentimentally sidelined. In fact, as a leading poetry critic since , he had long been attached to the emergent modern movement. Thomas not only made Frost's reputation.
He also reviewed Hardy, Yeats, Lawrence and Pound with remarkable insight. Thomas's poetry is "modern" in that it unsettles stable models of selfhood, perception, memory and language: We have only just caught up with Thomas as a pioneering ecological poet. He had grown up in London as London grew. No poet was better equipped to remake what Jonathan Bate calls "Romantic ecology". Thomas wrote in But civilisation has estranged us superficially from Nature, and towns make it possible for a man to live as if a millionaire could really produce all the necessities of life - food, drink, clothes, vehicles etc and then a tombstone.
Thomas saw himself as an "inhabitant of earth". This favourite phrase sums up his positive ecological thinking, and merges into his localised sense of "home". Yet like Owen, if from a different angle, he wrote elegies that "warn". War and rural dereliction led him to intuit a larger human absence. In "Aspens", he identifies his poetry with trees that prophetically "talk of rain".
And, as in "Old Man", he opens up a symbolic "dark avenue" - this time into the future: The whisper of the aspens is not drowned, And over lightless pane and footless road, Empty as sky, with every other sound Not ceasing, calls their ghosts from their abode,. A silent smithy, a silent inn, nor fails In the bare midnight or the thick-furred gloom, In tempest or the night of nightingales, To turn the cross-roads to a ghostly room.
I have described Thomas's poetry as situated on the cusp of history and on the brink of modern selfhood. It also peers into "a ghostly room". His poems are tougher, stranger, bleaker than they might appear. Perhaps they should be called "Roads from France". There are dark anti-epiphanies such as "Old Man", in which memory remains disturbingly elusive: Every time the horses turned Instead of treading me down, the ploughman leaned Upon the handles to say or ask a word, About the weather, next about the war.
Scraping the share he faced towards the wood, And screwed along the furrow till the brass flashed Once more. I could spare an arm. If I should lose my head, why, so, I should want nothing more…. Have many gone From here? Only two teams work on the farm this year. One of my mates is dead. The second day In France they killed him. It was back in March, The very night of the blizzard, too. Now if He had stayed here we should have moved the tree.
Everything Would have been different. For it would have been Another world. The horses started and for the last time I watched the clods crumble and topple over After the ploughshare and the stumbling team. They were changing guard, Soldiers in line, young English countrymen, Fair-haired and ruddy, in white tunics. Drums And fifes were playing "The British Grenadiers". The men, the music piercing that solitude And silence, told me truths I had not dreamed, And have forgotten since their beauty passed. Under the after-sunset sky Two pewits sport and cry, More white than is the moon on high Riding the dark surge silently; More black than earth.
Their cry Is the one sound under the sky. They alone move, now low, now high, And merrily they cry To the mischievous Spring sky, Plunging earthward, tossing high, Over the ghost who wonders why So merrily they cry and fly, Nor choose 'twixt earth and sky, While the moon's quarter silently Rides, and earth rests as silently. The rock-like mud unfroze a little and rills Ran and sparkled down each side of the road Under the catkins wagging in the hedge. But earth would have her sleep out, spite of the sun; Nor did I value that thin gilding beam More than a pretty February thing Till I came down to the old Manor Farm, And church and yew-tree opposite, in age Its equals and in size.
The church and yew And farmhouse slept in a Sunday silentness. The air raised not a straw. The steep farm roof, With tiles duskily glowing, entertained The mid-day sun; and up and down the roof White pigeons nestled. There was no sound but one. Three cart-horses were looking over a gate Drowsily through their forelocks, swishing their tails Against a fly, a solitary fly.
The Winter's cheek flushed as if he had drained Spring, Summer, and Autumn at a draught And smiled quietly. But 'twas not Winter— Rather a season of bliss unchangeable Awakened from farm and church where it had lain Safe under tile and thatch for ages since This England, Old already, was called Merry.
Downhill I came, hungry, and yet not starved; Cold, yet had heat within me that was proof Against the North wind; tired, yet so that rest Had seemed the sweetest thing under a roof. Then at the inn I had food, fire, and rest, Knowing how hungry, cold, and tired was I. All of the night was quite barred out except An owl's cry, a most melancholy cry. Shaken out long and clear upon the hill, No merry note, nor cause of merriment, But one telling me plain what I escaped And others could not, that night, as in I went. And salted was my food, and my repose, Salted and sobered, too, by the bird's voice Speaking for all who lay under the stars, Soldiers and poor, unable to rejoice.
They have taken the gable from the roof of clay On the long swede pile. They have let in the sun To the white and gold and purple of curled fronds Unsunned. It is a sight more tender-gorgeous At the wood-corner where Winter moans and drips Than when, in the Valley of the Tombs of Kings, A boy crawls down into a Pharaoh's tomb And, first of Christian men, beholds the mummy, God and monkey, chariot and throne and vase, Blue pottery, alabaster, and gold.
But dreamless long-dead Amen-hotep lies. This is a dream of Winter, sweet as Spring. Will you ride So late At my side? O, will you come? Will you come If the night Has a moon, Full and bright? Would you come If the noon Gave light, Not the moon? Beautiful, would you come? Would you have come? Would you have come Without scorning, Had it been Still morning? Beloved, would you have come? If you come Haste and come. Owls have cried; It grows dark To ride.
As the team's head-brass flashed out on the turn The lovers disappeared into the wood. I sat among the boughs of the fallen elm That strewed an angle of the fallow, and Watched the plough narrowing a yellow square Of charlock. Every time the horses turned Instead of treading me down, the ploughman leaned Upon the handles to say or ask a word, About the weather, next about the war.
Scraping the share he faced towards the wood, And screwed along the furrow till the brass flashed Once more. I could spare an arm. I shouldn't want to lose A leg. If I should lose my head, why, so, I should want nothing more. Only two teams work on the farm this year. One of my mates is dead. The second day In France they killed him. It was back in March, The very night of the blizzard, too. Now if He had stayed here we should have moved the tree.
Everything Would have been different. For it would have been Another world. The horses started and for the last time I watched the clods crumble and topple over After the ploughshare and the stumbling team. Over the land freckled with snow half-thawed The speculating rooks at their nests cawed And saw from elm-tops, delicate as flower of grass, What we below could not see, Winter pass. Gone the wild day: A wilder night Coming makes way For brief twilight. Where the firm soaked road Mounts and is lost In the high beech-wood It shines almost.
The wood is black, With a misty steam. Above, the cloud pack Breaks for one gleam. But the woodman's cot By the ivied trees Awakens not To light or breeze. Die, and forget The hill of trees, The gleam, the wet, This roaring peace. Like the touch of rain she was On a man's flesh and hair and eyes When the joy of walking thus Has taken him by surprise:. With the love of the storm he burns, He sings, he laughs, well I know how, But forgets when he returns As I shall not forget her "Go now.
Those two words shut a door Between me and the blessed rain That was never shut before And will not open again. Running along a bank, a parapet That saves from the precipitous wood below The level road, there is a path. It serves Children for looking down the long smooth steep, Between the legs of beech and yew, to where A fallen tree checks the sight: The path, winding like silver, trickles on, Bordered and even invaded by thinnest moss That tries to cover roots and crumbling chalk With gold, olive, and emerald, but in vain.
The children wear it. They have flattened the bank On top, and silvered it between the moss With the current of their feet, year after year. But the road is houseless, and leads not to school. To see a child is rare there, and the eye Has but the road, the wood that overhangs And underyawns it, and the path that looks As if it led on to some legendary Or fancied place where men have wished to go And stay; till, sudden, it ends where the wood ends.
The Combe was ever dark, ancient and dark. Its mouth is stopped with bramble, thorn, and briar; And no one scrambles over the sliding chalk By beech and yew and perishing juniper Down the half precipices of its sides, with roots And rabbit holes for steps. The sun of Winter, The moon of Summer, and all the singing birds Except the missel-thrust that loves juniper, Are quite shut out.
But far more ancient and dark The Combe looks since they killed the badger there.
Dug him out and gave him to the hounds, That most ancient Briton of English beasts. The rent I shall ask of her will be only Each year's first violets, white and lonely, The first primroses and orchises— She must find them before I do, that is. But if she finds a blossom on furze Without rent they shall all for ever be hers, Codham, Cockridden, and Childerditch, Roses, Pyrgo and Lapwater,— I shall give them all to my elder daughter. What shall I give my daughter the younger More than will keep her from cold and hunger?
I shall not give her anything. If she shared South Weald and Havering, Their acres, the two brooks running between, Paine's Brook and Weald Brook, With pewit, woodpecker, swan, and rook, She would be no richer than the queen Who once on a time sat in Havering Bower Alone, with the shadows, pleasure and power. She could do no more with Samarcand, Or the mountains of a mountain land And its far white house above cottages Like Venus above the Pleiades.
Her small hands I would not cumber With so many acres and their lumber, But leave her Steep and her own world And her spectacled self with hair uncurled, Wanting a thousand little things That time without contentment brings. If I were to own this countryside As far as a man in a day could ride, And the Tyes were mine for giving or letting,— Wingle Tye and Margaretting Tye,—and Skreens, Gooshays, and Cockerells, Shellow, Rochetts, Bandish, and Pickerells, Martins, Lambkins, and Lillyputs, Their copses, ponds, roads, and ruts, Fields where plough-horses steam and plovers Fling and whimper, hedges that lovers Love, and orchards, shrubberies, walls Where the sun untroubled by north wind falls, And single trees where the thrush sings well His proverbs untranslatable, I would give them all to my son If he would let me any one For a song, a blackbird's song, at dawn.
He should have no more, till on my lawn Never a one was left, because I Had shot them to put them into a pie,— His Essex blackbirds, every one, And I was left old and alone. Then unless I could pay, for rent, a song As sweet as a blackbird's, and as long— No more—he should have the house, not I: And you, Helen, what should I give you? I would give you youth, All kinds of loveliness and truth, A clear eye as good as mine, Lands, waters, flowers, wine, As many children as your heart Might wish for, a far better art Than mine can be, all you have lost Upon the travelling waters tossed, Or given to me.
If I could choose Freely in that great treasure-house Anything from any shelf, I would give you back yourself, And power to discriminate What you want and want it not too late, Many fair days free from care And heart to enjoy both foul and fair, And myself, too, if I could find Where it lay hidden and it proved kind. When first I came here I had hope, Hope for I knew not what. Fast beat My heart at sight of the tall slope Or grass and yews, as if my feet. Only by scaling its steps of chalk Would see something no other hill Ever disclosed.
And now I walk Down it the last time. My heart beat so again at sight Of any hill although as fair And loftier. For infinite The change, late unperceived, this year,. The twelfth, suddenly, shows me plain. Hope now,—not health, nor cheerfulness, Since they can come and go again, As often one brief hour witnesses,—. Just hope has gone for ever. Perhaps I may love other hills yet more Than this: One thing I know, that love with chance And use and time and necessity Will grow, and louder the heart's dance At parting than at meeting be. The downs will lose the sun, white alyssum Lose the bees' hum; But head and bottle tilted back in the cart Will never part Till I am cold as midnight and all my hours Are beeless flowers.
He neither sees, nor hears, nor smells, nor thinks, But only drinks, Quiet in the yard where tree trunks do not lie More quietly. After you speak And what you meant Is plain, My eyes Meet yours that mean— With your cheeks and hair— Something more wise, More dark, And far different.
I know your lust Is love. It was a perfect day For sowing; just As sweet and dry was the ground As tobacco-dust.
Such prominent critics and authors as Walter de la Mare, Aldous Huxley, Peter Sacks, Seamus Heaney, and Edna Longley have called Edward Thomas one of. The best poems by Edward Thomas () Edward Thomas was a master of the short poem. Variously labelled a 'Georgian poet' and a.
I tasted deep the hour Between the far Owl's chuckling first soft cry And the first star. A long stretched hour it was; Nothing undone Remained; the early seeds All safely sown. And now, hark at the rain, Windless and light, Half a kiss, half a tear, Saying good-night. When we two walked in Lent We imagined that happiness Was something different And this was something less.
But happy were we to hide Our happiness, not as they were Who acted in their pride Juno and Jupiter:. For the Gods in their jealousy Murdered that wife and man, And we that were wise live free To recall our happiness then. 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.
There they stand, on their ends, the fifty faggots That once were underwood of hazel and ash In Jenny Pinks's Copse. Now, by the hedge Close packed, they make a thicket fancy alone Can creep through with the mouse and wren. Next Spring A blackbird or a robin will nest there, Accustomed to them, thinking they will remain Whatever is for ever to a bird: This Spring it is too late; the swift has come. Better they will never warm me, though they must Light several Winters' fires. Before they are done The war will have ended, many other things Have ended, maybe, that I can no more Foresee or more control than robin and wren.
He himself was like a cob, And leather-coloured. Also he loved a tree. For the life in them he loved most living things, But a tree chiefly. All along the lane He planted elms where now the stormcock sings That travellers hear from the slow-climbing train. Till then the track had never had a name For all its thicket and the nightingales That should have earned it.
No one was to blame. To name a thing beloved man sometimes fails. Many years since, Bob Hayward died, and now None passes there because the mist and the rain Out of the elms have turned the lane to slough And gloom, the name alone survives, Bob's Lane. Early one morning in May I set out, And nobody I knew was about. There was no wind to trouble the weathercocks. I had burnt my letters and darned my socks.
I heard the brook through the town gardens run. O sweet was the mud turned to dust by the sun. A gate banged in a fence and banged in my head. 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. The cherry trees bend over and are shedding On the old road where all that passed are dead, Their petals, strewing the grass as for a wedding This early May morn when there is none to wed.
It rains, and nothing stirs within the fence Anywhere through the orchard's untrodden, dense Forest of parsley. The great diamonds Of rain on the grassblades there is none to break, Or the fallen petals further down to shake. And I am nearly as happy as possible To 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 walk In the rain. When I turn away, on its fine stalk Twilight has fined to naught, the parsley flower Figures, suspended still and ghostly white, The past hovering as it revisits the light.
The judge at Salisbury Can't give him more than he undoubtedly Deserves. Look at his photograph! Hanging's too good by half For such as he. But at the inn the Gipsy dame began: He went along with Carrie, and when she Had a baby he paid up so readily His half a crown. A crown'd have been More like him. For I never knew him mean. Last time we met he said if me and Joe Was anywhere near we must be sure and call. He put his arms around our Amos all As if he were his own son. I pray God Save him from justice! Nicer man never trod. I have come a long way to-day: On a strange bridge alone, Remembering friends, old friends, I rest, without smile or moan, As they remember me without smile or moan.
All are behind, the kind And the unkind too, no more To-night than a dream. No traveller has rest more blest Than this moment brief between Two lives, when the Night's first lights And shades hide what has never been, Things goodlier, lovelier, dearer, than will be or have been. At hawthorn-time in Wiltshire travelling In search of something chance would never bring, An old man's face, by life and weather cut And coloured,—rough, brown, sweet as any nut,— A land face, sea-blue-eyed,—hung in my mind When I had left him many a mile behind.
All he said was: It's A footpath, right enough. You see those bits Of mounds—that's where they opened up the barrows Sixty years since, while I was scaring sparrows. They thought as there was something to find there, But couldn't find it, by digging, anywhere. To turn back then and seek him, where was the use? There were three Manningfords,—Abbots, Bohun, and Bruce: All had their churches, graveyards, farms, and byres, Lurking to one side up the paths and lanes, Seldom well seen except by aeroplanes; And when bells rang, or pigs squealed, or cocks crowed, Then only heard.