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Private Thomas

Andrew Motion, 19 December 1985

Edward ThomasA Portrait 
by R. George Thomas.
Oxford, 331 pp., £12.95, October 1985, 0 19 818527 8
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... R. George Thomas is a cautious man. His life of Edward Thomas (no relation) is ‘a portrait’ not ‘a biography’. Maybe this is just as well. The poet was a cautious man too. He was also a scrupulous one, and when we read in the first few pages that research for this book began ‘in the early 1960s’, we are encouraged to feel that author and subject are kindred spirits ...

Thomas’s Four Hats

Patricia Beer, 2 April 1981

The Poetry of Edward Thomas 
by Andrew Motion.
Routledge, 193 pp., £8.95, November 1980, 0 7100 0471 0
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... The publishers say that The Poetry of Edward Thomas is the first full-length study to deal exclusively with Thomas’s poetry (in Britain, they must mean). On the face of it, a six-decade gap of this sort shows a strange failure in critical husbandry. Yet it is not really so surprising ...

Obstacles

Penelope Fitzgerald, 4 July 1996

Edward ThomasSelected Letters 
edited by R. George Thomas.
Oxford, 192 pp., £30, March 1996, 0 19 818562 6
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... It would be quite possible to read about Edward Thomas and wonder how it was that so many people made such allowances for him. A man who had a house built for himself and then refused to live in it, he tormented his wife and children with his restlessness – he calculated he was never happy for more than a quarter of an hour in the day ...

England and Other Women

Edna Longley, 5 May 1988

Under Storm’s Wing 
by Helen Thomas and Myfanwy Thomas.
Carcanet, 318 pp., £14.95, February 1988, 0 85635 733 2
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... The structural ironies of Edward Thomas’s life still condition his reputation. Just as he made a late poetic start, so criticism has been slow to gather momentum. Even the recent spate of studies – by Michael Kirkham, Stan Smith, and the contributors to Jonathan Barker’s Art of Edward Thomas – seems more fortuitous than co-ordinated ...

Three Poems

Michael Longley: ‘For Eddie Linden at Seventy’, ‘Call’ and ‘The Wren’, 7 July 2005

... and you, Eddie, As I dander towards the New York Public Library to peek at the field notebooks Of Edward Thomas wandering in England In pursuit of spring before poetry and war. Somewhere between Dorval and La Guardia I encountered John Paul among the clouds Like a surge of energy from the engines. Now he lies stiff and full of chemicals In precarious ...

Just a smack at Grigson

Denis Donoghue, 7 March 1985

Montaigne’s Tower, and Other Poems 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Secker, 72 pp., £5.95, October 1984, 0 436 18806 6
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Collected Poems: 1963-1980 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Allison and Busby, 256 pp., £4.95, October 1984, 0 85031 557 3
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The Faber Book of Reflective Verse 
edited by Geoffrey Grigson.
Faber, 238 pp., £7.95, October 1984, 0 571 13299 5
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Blessings, Kicks and Curses 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Allison and Busby, 279 pp., £4.95, October 1984, 0 85031 558 1
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The Private Art: A Poetry Notebook 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Allison and Busby, 231 pp., £4.95, October 1984, 9780850315592
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Before the Romantics: An Anthology of the Enlightenment 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Salamander, 349 pp., £5.95, September 1984, 0 907540 59 7
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... and rancour. There is evidence that he enjoys walking, curlews, turtledoves, bullfinches, owls, Thomas Moore’s ‘Thee, Thee, Only Thee’ and much that France still offers. There are writers he likes, most of them dead: Ronsard, John Clare, William Barnes (‘love of whose poems seems to me a litmus paper of the genuine’), Auden (‘the greatest of my ...

Weasel, Magpie, Crow

Mark Ford: Edward Thomas, 1 January 2009

Edward ThomasThe Annotated Collected Poems 
edited by Edna Longley.
Bloodaxe, 335 pp., £12, June 2008, 978 1 85224 746 1
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... and eloquently, declared in his ‘Art poétique’ of 1874. The line must have lodged in Edward Thomas’s mind: in May 1914, some six months before his late efflorescence into verse at the age of 36, he wrote to Robert Frost of his longing to ‘wring all the necks of my rhetoric – the geese’. He was referring to the over-elaborate ...

Two Poems

Peter Porter, 12 January 1995

... his Yeats. But as we sort out from   The country metaphors (That almanac birdsong,   Those Edward Thomas spores) The few bits which belong   To his mature scores, We smell death on the Somme. He didn’t write of war   But just like Isherwood Saw straight sex as the flaw   Which cost a decade’s blood – His poems should restore   A ...

I fret and fret

Adam Phillips: Edward Thomas, 5 November 2015

Edward ThomasFrom Adelstrop to Arras 
by Jean Moorcroft Wilson.
Bloomsbury, 480 pp., £25, May 2015, 978 1 4081 8713 5
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... Edward Thomas​ believed that up to about the age of four what he called ‘a sweet darkness’ enfolded him ‘with a faint blessing’. It was, though, a darkness and the blessing was faint. ‘From an early age’, Jean Moorcroft Wilson writes, Thomas ‘felt cursed by a self-consciousness he believed the chief cause of his later problems and depression ...

It is still mañana

Matthew Bevis: Robert Frost’s Letters, 19 February 2015

The Letters of Robert Frost, Vol. 1: 1886-1920 
edited by Donald Sheehy, Mark Richardson and Robert Faggen.
Harvard, 811 pp., £33.95, March 2014, 978 0 674 05760 9
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... said. In 1912 Frost moved his family to England and met many writers, including Yeats, Pound and Edward Thomas, who would become his closest friend. Before returning to America in 1915, he wrote home with some news: ‘To be perfectly frank with you I am one of the most notable craftsmen of my time. That will transpire presently.’ In their ...

Morgan to his Friends

Denis Donoghue, 2 August 1984

Selected Letters of E.M. Forster: Vol. I: 1879-1920 
edited by Mary Lago and P.N. Furbank.
Collins, 344 pp., £15.95, October 1983, 0 00 216718 2
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... to see six chickens he tended – G.L. Dickinson, E.J. Dent, Siegfried Sassoon, Forrest Reid and Edward Carpenter. Interesting, too, when they involve places, travels, holidaying. Forster had what sounds like a very long holiday, beginning in October 1901, with his mother in Italy. Five months in Germany in 1905 didn’t leave a permanent impression. But the ...

Dykes, Drongs, Sarns, Snickets

David Craig: Walking England, 20 December 2012

The English Lakes: A History 
by Ian Thompson.
Bloomsbury, 343 pp., £16.99, March 2012, 978 1 4088 0958 7
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The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot 
by Robert Macfarlane.
Hamish Hamilton, 432 pp., £20, June 2012, 978 0 241 14381 0
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... he seems to have settled for discussing the mediated view and we submit to the familiar cavalcade: Thomas West brings out his Guide (1778), which advises on the correct ‘stations’ from which to view this or that Picturesque vista. Wordsworth writes his Guide to the Lakes (1835), which idealises the hill farmer as the type of the sturdy Englishman, neither ...

Loose Woven

Peter Howarth: Edward Thomas’s contingencies, 4 August 2005

Collected Poems 
by Edward Thomas, edited by R. George Thomas.
Faber, 264 pp., £12.99, October 2004, 0 571 22260 9
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... The blurb on this excellent new and expanded edition of Edward Thomas’s Collected Poems tells you that Thomas was ‘one of the great English poets of the 20th century’, which is true, and that he was not really a ‘war poet’ but a lonely nature poet, which is slightly less true ...

Bolsheviks and Bohemians

Angus Calder, 5 April 1984

The Life of Arthur Ransome 
by Hugh Brogan.
Cape, 456 pp., £10.95, January 1984, 0 224 02010 2
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Bohemia in London 
by Arthur Ransome, introduced by Rupert Hart-Davis.
Oxford, 284 pp., £3.50, January 1984, 0 19 281412 5
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... They lived for a time in adjacent lodgings. For a week they subsisted on cheese and apples, till Edward, the older man, unexpectedly got a cheque for £25. They had a good meal in a Soho restaurant, crossed the street and sat down to another. Half a bottle of wine could then be had for tenpence. They went on to port in a friend’s room. When they got back ...

On Michael Longley

Colin Burrow: Michael Longley, 19 October 2017

... banks which separate those two artificially divided streams, but he does so with remarkable force. Edward Thomas is a particularly strong influence, which is not surprising given that Thomas was a nature poet turned Tommy who therefore could serve as an imaginative proxy for Longley’s own soldier father. Another less ...

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