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Author: EdwardThomasAdmin

As The Team’s Head-Brass

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 the 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.

The blizzard felled the elm whose crest
I sat in, by a woodpecker’s round hole, 
The ploughman said.… Continue Reading

Aspens

All day and night, save winter, every weather,
Above the inn, the smithy, and the shop,
The aspens at the cross-roads talk together
Of rain, until their last leaves fall from the top.

Out of the blacksmith’s cavern comes the ringing
Of hammer, shoe, and anvil; out of the inn
The clink, the hum, the roar, the random singing —
The sounds that for these fifty years have been.

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 moonlight or the thick-furred gloom,
In tempest or the night of nightingales,
To turn the cross-roads to a ghostly room.… Continue Reading

Adlestrop

Yes. I remember Adlestrop —
The name, because one afternoon
Of heat the express-train drew up there
Unwontedly. It was late June.

The steam hissed. Someone cleared his throat,
No one left and no one came
On the bare platform. What I saw
Was Adlestrop — only the name

And willows, willowherb, and grass,
And meadowsweet, and haycocks dry, 
No whit less still and lonely fair
Than the high cloudlets in the sky.

And for that minute a blackbird sang
Close by, and round him, mistier, 
Farther and farther, all the birds
Of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire. 

 … Continue Reading

The Childhood of Edward Thomas

From The Childhood of Edward Thomas (1938). Written between 1913 and 1915, this is Edward Thomas’s autobiography which unfortunately he was unable to continue beyond his schooldays, but the existing portion is complete in itself. It creates a vivid picture of his middle-class suburban childhood, with many amusing vignettes of his family, friends, school teachers and casual acquaintances, as well as giving a fascinating account of Edward’s burgeoning passions for literature and natural history. It also sometimes, as in this extract, depicts the unpleasant – even brutal – aspects of human nature as they were revealed to this boy.

So I used to enjoy going about with Henry to look at the pigeon shops in Wandsworth, Battersea and Clapham, occasionally to visit the back-garden lofts of working men in the same neighbourhoods.Continue Reading

The Maidens Wood

From ‘The Maiden’s Wood’, a short story in Rest and Unrest (1910). Though this piece is most accurately classified as a short story, its style is very similar to that typical of Edward Thomas’s nature essays and topographical writing: first-person narration with closely observed details of an encountered scene or character.

I had been there a score of times without making anything like a full survey and inventory of my kingdom. It was becoming part of me, a kingdom rather of the spirit than of the earth, and I was content to see what I had seen on my first visit.Continue Reading

In Pursuit of Spring

From In Pursuit of Spring (1914), one of Edward Thomas’s best topographical books, recounting his bicycle journey, in March 1913, from London, through the southern counties, to Cothelstone Hill in Somerset. Here he describes Glastonbury.

For three miles I was in the flat green land of Queen’s Sedgemoor, drained by straight sedgy watercourses, along which grow lines of elm, willow, or pine. Glastonbury Tor mounted up out of the flat before me, like a huge tumulus, almost bare, but tipped by St Michael’s tower. Soon the ground began to rise on my left, and the crooked apple orchards of Avalon came down to the roadside, their turf starred by innumerable daisies and gilt celandines.Continue Reading

A Return To Nature

From ‘A Return to Nature’, a short story in The South Country (1909). Here, Edward Thomas describes a small and rather pathetic demonstration by famished unemployed men in London; the attitudes of various onlookers are particularly telling. This passage reveals his acute conscience regarding social injustice.

The multitude on the pavement continued to press straight onward, or to flit in and out of coloured shops. None looked at the standard, the dark man and his cloudy followers, except a few of the smallest newspaper boys who had a few spare minutes and rushed over to march with them in the hope of music or a speech or a conflict.Continue Reading

From The Heart of England

From The Heart of England (1906). Edward Thomas appears to recount walking with his wife Helen across the fields to the farmhouse where they would live. This precise description of Else’s Farm, near the village of Weald in Kent, which was the Thomases’ home from 1904-1906, remains accurate. This passage also provides an example of Edward Thomas’s lyrical idealism in his prose.

Almost at the end of a long walk, and as a small silver sun was leaving a pale and frosty sky, we began to ascend a broad, heaving meadow which was bordered on our right, on its eastern side, by a long, narrow copse of ash trees.Continue Reading

From Beautiful Wales

From Beautiful Wales (1905). A description of a Welsh clergyman which exemplifies Edward Thomas’s skill at observing traits of character as well as his gentle humour.

He makes a fine figure of Charity in his old age, with his preoccupied blue eyes under a brow that is marked only by three lines like three beams thrown upward by a sun. He has a large, joyous, curving mouth, side-whiskers, careless beard, large feet.

He has but one touch of sentiment. Nearly half a century ago he fell in love with a pretty woman, and unsuccessfully; yet, though she is known to be married and still alive, he has come to have for her memory a grandfatherly tenderness, regarding her as a white and careless girl, in spite of time.… Continue Reading

From the Woodland

From The Woodland Life (1897), Edward Thomas’s first book, published when he was just 19 years old. A description of the English countryside in winter.

At length the road emerges from its groove on to the hill-top, and once more it is level and bounded by narrow woods of spruce, whence comes the startling challenge of the pheasant-cocks. Meanwhile the twilight air has become keener and the wind rises — humming through the green firs. The smaller birds are nearly all in cover, and only a belated pipit or a steady flapping rook moves aloft in the rude air. 

Sometimes, in the hedges that line the way, robins rustle gently and fly a yard or two, or a blackbird blusters out; otherwise the life so lately stirring is silent, and the tomtits are rocked asleep amid the swaying larch-boughs.Continue Reading