Monday, 7 September 2009

I am in love . . .

. . . and I'm afraid it is an unrequited passion and always will be . . . for the darling man is dead.

The object of my passion? Dymock - or war - poet Edward Thomas. I read his prose, his poetry, and wish that I could have met this man for like his wife Helen and their friend Eleanor Farjeon, I would have worshipped him. His thoughts, his sensitivity, his eloquence, his empathy with the natural world and his knowledge of it, his descriptions - does such a man exist now? I doubt it. Let me share one short piece with you and see if you aren't half in love with him too . . .

THE BROOK The brook rises in clear, grey, trembling basin at the foot of a chalk hill, among flowers of lotus and thyme and eyebright and rest-harrow. Here the stone curlew drinks, and above is the gently rounded encampment, ancient, and yet still young compared with the dusky spring which has something gnomish and earthy about it, though ti takes the sun. it drops in thin, bright links over the chalk, and then for a time loses its way in playing with cresses and marsh marigolds,spreading out so finely that hardly will the ladybird drown that falls therein - falling at length in cascade from one dead leaf to another down a hedge bank. Below, it nourishes the first forget-me-nots, by a gateway where it slips across the lane, and is dew-fed by the vetches and clovers that swaddle the posts of the gate. Now it is unheard and unseen in the darkness underneath dog's mercury leaves until it has gained its first treble voice as, pausing by an interrupting branch it fills a hollow and pours over in icy fingers to the ditch beneath. Here it has cuckoo-flowers and creeping jenny and butterbur to feed; thrushes drink of it, beetles dart across it like scullers that dream now and then upon their sculls. It learns now to sway the cress, to bow the brooklime, to brighten the sides of the minnows, the fledgeling of the robin that falls into it dies. It floats the catkin down and out of it rises the azure dragon-fly. Sometimes it muffles its going in moss, but in a little while it gushes through drains and falls and falls with a now unceasing noise in a land where all the hollows are full of apple trees, rough grey with dewy clover, and through all the hollows winds the brook, dappled by blossom, leaned over by the bee-cradling, sleepy, meadow cranesbill flower; in its green bed the water-voles wear their submerged pathways.

There is more. It appears in "One Green Field" (ISBN 978-0-141-19091-4).

Sadly Edward Thomas was killed by blast on the date of my birth, but in 1917. There was not a mark on him - it was as if he had passed in his sleep. Thank God for that much . . .

Oh, and just a footnote. I have computer problems (it won't load my photos) so if I go quiet for a couple of days, it is because the computer is having keyhole surgery . . .


  1. What observations ...his war poetry must be wonderful ...not sure that is the best word for the war!!

  2. So lovely when we find a writer that touches us deeply! This man surely was in tune with the spirit within nature. Thank you for sharing him.

  3. He writes marvellous prose doesn't he? He really makes you 'see' what he is writing about. I've recently bought The Heart of England and shall be taking it to read during my flight to the US in a couple of weeks. It will be available to loan when I get back if you like?

  4. I'll certainly take you up on that offer Rowan, many thanks. I shall try and prise myself away from One Green Field and get it off in the post to you - with a fresh letter too (that's half written right now, apologies!)

  5. I wasn't familiar with this writer, so had to look up a bit about him and was immediately fascinated by his connections with Robert Frost, who is, of course, embraced as a poet of New England. { I was so angry to learn that the Frost farmhouse near Ripton, VT was vandalized by young hoodlams several years ago!}
    The prose excerpt which you posted is a very "layered" style of writing [for want of a better word] lavish with descriptive detail. Frost, also an observer of nature, has a way of saying much with fewer words.
    Edward Thomas seems like a man who would be a marvelous companion for a walk or to sit with quietly observing nature---and I think he would have inspired "love"--but wouldn't he have taken much patience to live with!