Saturday, 29 April 2017

 
 
Edward Thomas is a poet whose life and work has held a fascination for other writers. The late emergence of Thomas’ poetry after years of ‘hack’ writing, his sometimes troubled family life and his early death has been explored in several biographies as well as the play The Dark Earth and the Light Sky by Nick Dear. Thomas’ ‘ghost’ accompanies Robert Macfarlane as he cycles the Ickneild way and walks across landscapes in The Old Ways. In 2007, Branch-Lines: Edward Thomas and Contemporary Poetry collected together numerous poems and articles relating to Thomas by over fifty poets and critics. One of the earliest poems about Thomas after he was killed in action a hundred years ago in the First World War was written by Eleanor Farjeon:
 
Easter Monday (In Memoriam E.T.)
In the last letter that I had from France
You thanked me for the silver Easter egg
Which I had hidden in the box of apples
You liked to munch beyond all other fruit.
You found the egg the Monday before Easter,
And said, ‘I will praise Easter Monday now –
It was such a lovely morning’. Then you spoke
Of the coming battle and said, ‘This is the eve.
Good-bye. And may I have a letter soon.’
That Easter Monday was a day for praise,
It was such a lovely morning. In our garden
We sowed our earliest seeds, and in the orchard
The apple-bud was ripe. It was the eve.
There are three letters that you will not get.
 April 9th, 1917
 
Farjeon was a close friend of Thomas and both of them visited the Gloucestershire village of Dymock where fellow poets Robert Frost, Lascelles Abercrombie and Wilfrid Gibson lived. The archives at the University of Gloucestershire contain a special collection of material relating to all the poets connected to Dymock during this period
 
 Eleanor Farjeon

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