<center><h1>Edward Thomas (1878-1917)</h1></center><hr> Born in Lambeth, London to Welsh parents on 3 March 1878, Philip Edward Thomas studied at St Paul's school and Oxford before earning a living as a freelance journalist and author. As a result of his friendship with Robert Frost whom he met in 1912 (after Thomas's death Frost was to describe him as "the only brother I ever had") he turned to poetry and his first collection was published in 1916 under the pseudonym of Edward Eastaway. Between December 1914 and his death two years and four months later he wrote 142 poems and is increasingly regarded as among the finest and most influential British poets of the time. In July 1915 he enlisted in the Artists' Rifles and then was commissioned in the Royal Artillery in 1916. He volunteered or service overseas and was sent to France in January 1917. He was killed in the battle of Arras on Easter Monday, 9 April 1917 at 7.36 a.m. He is buried in a military cemetary at Agny, south of Arras. See The Richmond Review for these poems and many other things of literary interest. http://www.demon.co.uk/review/library/thomas00.html
<h3>In Memoriam (Easter 1915)</h3> 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. <h3> A Private </h3> This ploughman dead in battle slept out of doors Many a frozen night, and merrily Answered staid drinkers, good bedmen, and all bores: 'At Mrs Greenland's Hawthorn Bush', said he, 'I slept.' None knew which bush. Above the town, Beyond 'The Drover', a hundred spot the down In Wiltshire. And where now at last he sleeps More sound in France - that, too, he secret keeps. <h3> Like the Touch of Rain </h3> 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. </h3> The Owl </h3> 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. <h3> Rain </h3> Rain, midnight rain, nothing but the wild rain On this bleak hut, and solitude, and me Remembering again that I shall die And neither hear the rain nor give it thanks For washing me cleaner than I have been Since I was born into this solitude. Blessed are the dead that the rain rains upon: But here I pray that none whom once I loved Is dying tonight or lying still awake Solitary, listening to the rain, Either in pain or thus in sympathy Helpless among the living and the dead, Like a cold water among broken reeds, Myriads of broken reeds all still and stiff, Like me who have no love which this wild rain Has not dissolved except the love of death, If love it be for what is perfect and Cannot, the tempest tells me, disappoint. <h3> This is No Case of Petty Right or Wrong </h3> This is no case of petty right or wrong That politicians or philosophers Can judge. I hate not Germans, nor grow hot With love of Englishmen, to please newspapers. Beside my hate for one fat patriot My hatred of the Kaiser is love true:-- A kind of god he is, banging a gong. But I have not to choose between the two, Or between justice and injustice. Dinned With war and argument I read no more Than in the storm smoking along the wind Athwart the wood. Two witches' cauldrons roar. From one the weather shall rise clear and gay; Out of the other an England beautiful And like her mother that died yesterday. Little I know or care if, being dull, I shall miss something that historians Can rake out of the ashes when perchance The phoenix broods serene above their ken. But with the best and meanest Englishmen I am one in crying, God save England, lest We lose what never slaves and cattle blessed. The ages made her that made us from dust: She is all we know and live by, and we trust She is good and must endure, loving her so: And as we love ourselves we hate her foe. <h3> As the Team's Head-Brass </h3> 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. "When will they take it away?" "When the war's over." So the talk began One minute and an interval of ten, A minute more and the same interval. "Have you been out ?" "No." "And don't want to, perhaps?" "If I could only come back again, I should. 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 . . . Have many gone From here?" "Yes." "Many lost?" "Yes, a good few. 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." "And I should not have sat here. Everything Would have been different. For it would have been Another world." "Ay, and a better, though If we could see all all might seem good." Then The lovers came out of the wood again: The horses started and for the last time I watched the clods crumble and topple over After the ploughshare and the stumbling team. <h3> Adlestrop </h3> 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, willow-herb, 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. <h3> After Rain </h3> The rain of a night and a day and a night Stops at the light Of this pale choked day. The peering sun Sees what has been done. The road under the trees has a border new of purple hue Inside the border of bright thin grass: For all that has Been left by November of leaves is torn From hazel and thorn And the greater trees. Throughout the copse No dead leaf drops On grey grass, green moss, burnt-orange fern, At the wind's return: The leaflets out of the ash-tree shed Are thinly spread In the road, like little black fish, inlaid, As if they played. What hangs from the myriad branches down there So hard and bare Is twelve yellow apples lovely to see On one crab-tree. And on each twig of every tree in the dell Uncountable Crystals both dark and bright of the the rain That begins again. <h3> After You Speak </h3> 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. Even so the lark Loves dust And nestles in it The minute Before he must Soar in lone flight So far, Like a black star He seems - A mote Of singing dust Afloat Above, The dreams And sheds no light. I know your lust Is love. <h3> Ambition </h3> Unless it was that day I never knew Ambition. After a night of frost, before The March sun brightened and the South-west blew, Jackdaws began to shout and float and soar Already, and one was racing straight and high Alone, shouting like a black warrior Challenges and menaces to the wide sky. With loud long laughter then a woodpecker Ridiculed the sadness of the owl's last cry. And through the valley where all the folk astir Made only plumes of pearly smoke to tower Over dark trees and white meadows happier Than was Elysium in that happy hour, A train that roared along raised after it And carried with it a motionless white bower Of purest cloud, from end to end close-knit, So fair it touched the roar with silence. Time Was powerless while that lasted. I could sit And think I had made the loveliness of prime, Breathed its life into it and were its lord, And no mind lived save this 'twixt clouds and rime. Omnipotent was I, nor even deplored That I did nothing. But the end fell like a bell: The bower was scattered; far off the train roared. But if this was ambition I cannot tell. What 'twas ambition for I know not well. <h3> And You, Helen </h3> And you, Helen, what should I give you? So many things I would give you Had I an infinite great store Offered me and I stood before To choose. 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. <h3> April </h3> The sweetest thing, I thought At one time, between earth and heaven Was the first smile When mist has been forgiven And the sun has stolen out, Peered, and resolved to shine at seven On dabbled lengthening grasses, Thick primroses and early leaves uneven, When earth's breath, warm and humid, far surpasses The richest oven's, and loudly rings 'cuckoo' And sharply the nightingale's 'tsoo, tsoo, tsoo, tsoo': To say 'God bless it' was all that I could do. But now I know one sweeter By far since the day Emily Turned weeping back To me, still happy me, To ask forgiveness, - Yet smiled with half a certainty To be forgiven, - for what She had never done; I knew not what it might be, Nor could she tell me, having now forgot, By rapture carried with me past all care As to an isle in April lovelier Than April's self. 'God bless you' I said to her. <h3> The Ash Grove </h3> Half of the grove stood dead, and those that yet lived made Little more than the dead ones made of shade. If they led to a house, long before they had seen its fall: But they welcomed me; I was glad without cause and delayed. Scarce a hundred paces under the trees was the interval - Paces each sweeter than the sweetest miles - but nothing at all, Not even the spirits of memory and fear with restless wing, Could climb down in to molest me over the wall That I passed through at either end without noticing. And now an ash grove far from those hills can bring The same tranquillity in which I wander a ghost With a ghostly gladness, as if I heard a girl sing The song of the Ash Grove soft as love uncrossed, And then in a crowd or in distance it were lost, But the moment unveiled something unwilling to die And I had what I most desired, without search or desert or cost. <h3> Aspens </h3> All day and all 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. And it would be the same were no house near. Over all sorts of weather, men, and times, Aspens must shake their leaves and men may hear But need not listen, more than to my rhymes. Whatever wind blows while they and I have leaves We cannot other than an aspen be That ceaselessly, unreasonably grieves, Or so men think who like a different tree. <h3> As the Clouds that are so Light </h3> As the clouds that are so light, Beautiful, swift, and bright, Cast shadows on field and park Of the earth that is so dark, And even so now, light one! Beautiful, swift and bright one! You let fall on a heart that was dark, Unillumined, a deeper mark. But clouds would have, without earth To shadow, far less worth: Away from your shadow on me Your beauty less would be, And if it still be treasured An age hence, it shall be measured By this small dark spot Without which it were not. The Barn The Barn and the Down Beauty Birds' Nests The Bridge Bright Clouds The Brook But These Things Also <h3> The Barn </h3> They should never have built a barn there, at all - Drip, drip, drip! - under that elm tree, Though when it was young. Now it is old But good, not like the barn and me. To-morrow they cut it down. They will leave The barn, as I shall be left, maybe. What holds it up? 'Twould not pay to pull down. Well, this place has no other antiquity. No abbey or castle looks so old As this that Job Knight built in '54, Built to keep corn for rats and men. Now there's fowls in the roof, pigs on the floor. What thatch survives is dung for the grass, The best grass on the farm. A pity the roof Will not bear a mower to mow it. But Only fowls have foothold enough. Starlings used to sit there with bubbling throats Making a spiky beard as they chattered And whistled and kissed, with heads in air, Till they thought of something else that mattered. But now they cannot find a place, Among all those holes, for a nest any more. It's the turn of lesser things, I suppose. Once I fancied 'twas starlings they built it for. <h3> The Barn and the Down </h3> It stood in the sunset sky Like the straight-backed down, Many a time - the barn At the edge of town, So huge and dark that it seemed It was the hill Till the gable's precipice proved It impossible. Then the great down in the west Grew into sight, A barn stored full to the ridge With black of night; And the barn fell to a barn Or even less Before critical eyes and its own Late mightiness. But far down and near barn and I Since then have smiled, Having seen my new cautiousness By itself beguiled To disdain what seemed the barn Till a few steps changed It past all doubt to the down; So the barn was avenged. <h3> Beauty </h3> What does it mean? Tired, angry, and ill at ease, No man, woman, or child alive could please Me now. And yet I almost dare to laugh Because I sit and frame an epitaph - 'Here lies all that no one loved of him And that loved no one,' Then in a trice that whim Has wearied. But, though I am like a river At fall of evening while it seems that never Has the sun lighted it or warmed it, while Cross breezes cut the surface to a file, This heart, some fraction of me, happily Floats through the window even now to a tree Down in the misting, dim-lit, quiet vale, Not like a pewit that returns to wail For something it has lost, but like a dove That slants unswerving to its home and love. There I find my rest, and through the dusk air Flies what yet lives in me. Beauty is there. <h3> Birds' Nests </h3> The summer nests uncovered by autumn wind, Some torn, others dislodged, all dark, Everyone sees them: low or high in tree, Or hedge, or single bush, they hang like a mark. Since there's no need of eyes to see them with I cannot help a little shame That I missed most, even at eye's level, till The leaves blew off and made the seeing no game. 'Tis a light pang. I like to see the nests Still in their places, now first known, At home and by far roads. Boys knew them not, Whatever jays and squirrels may have done. And most I like the winter nests deep-hid That leaves and berries fell into: Once a dormouse dined there on hazel-nuts, And grass and goose-grass seeds found soil and grew. <h3> The Bridge </h3> 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. The stream Runs softly yet drowns the Past, The dark-lit stream has drowned the Future and the Past. 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. <h3> Bright Clouds </h3> Bright clouds of may Shade half the pond. Beyond, All but one bay Of emerald Tall reeds Like criss-cross bayonets Where a bird once called, Lies bright as the sun. No one heeds. The light wind frets And drifts the scum Of may-blossom. Till the moorhen calls Again Naught's to be done By birds or men. Still the may falls. <h3> The Brook </h3> Seated once by a brook, watching a child Chiefly that paddled, I was thus beguiled. Mellow the blackbird sang and sharp the thrush Not far off in oak and hazel brush, Unseen. There was a scent like honeycomb From mugwort dull. And down upon the dome Of the stone the cart-horse kicks against so oft A butterfly alighted. From aloft He took the heat of the sun, and from below. On the hot stone he perched contented so, As if never a cart would pass again That way; as if I were the last of men And he the first of insects to have earth And sun together and to know their worth. I was divided between him and the gleam, The motion, and the voices, of the stream, The waters running frizzled over gravel, That never vanish and for ever travel. A grey flycatcher silent on a fence And I sat as if we had been there since The horseman and the horse lying beneath The fir-tree-covered barrow on the heath, The horseman and the horse with silver shoes, Galloped the downs last. All that I could lose I lost. And then the child's voice raised the dead. 'No one's been here before' was what she said And what I felt, yet never should have found A word for, while I gathered sight and sound. <h3> But These Things Also </h3> But these things also are Spring's - On banks by the roadside the grass Long-dead that is greyer now Than all the Winter it was; The shell of a little snail bleached In the grass; chip of flint, and mite Of chalk; and the small birds' dung In splashes of purest white: All the white things a man mistakes For earliest violets Who seeks through Winter's ruins Something to pay Winter's debts, While the North blows, and starling flocks By chattering on and on Keep their spirits up in the mist, And Spring's here, Winter's not gone. A Cat Celandine The Chalk-Pit The Cherry Trees The Child in the Orchard The Child on the Cliffs Cock-Crow The Combe The Cuckoo <h3> A Cat </h3> She had a name among the children; But no one loved though someone owned Her, locked out of doors at bedtime And had her kittens duly drowned. In Spring, nevertheless, this cat Ate blackbirds, thrushes, nightingales, And birds of bright voice and plume and flight, As well as scraps from neighbours' pails. I loathed and hated her for this; One speckle on a thrush's breast Was worth a million such; and yet She lived long, till God gave her rest. <h3> Celandine </h3> Thinking of her had saddened me at first, Until I saw the sun on the celandines lie Redoubled, and she stood up like a flame, A living thing, not what before I nursed, The shadow I was growing to love almost, The phantom, not the creature with bright eye That I had thought never to see, once lost. She found the celandines of February Always before us all. Her nature and name Were like those flowers, and now immediately For a short swift eternity back she came, Beautiful, happy, simply as when she wore Her brightest bloom among the winter hues Of all the world; and I was happy too, Seeing the blossoms and the maiden who Had seen them with me Februarys before, Bending to them as in and out she trod And laughed, with locks sweeping the mossy sod. But this was a dream: the flowers were not true, Until I stooped to pluck from the grass there, One of five petals and I smelt the juice Which made me sigh, remembering she was no more, Gone like a never perfectly recalled air. <h3> The Chalk-Pit </h3> 'Is this the road that climbs above and bends Round what was once a chalk-pit: now it is By accident an amphitheatre. Some ash trees standing ankle-deep in briar And bramble act the parts, and neither speak Nor stir,' 'But see: they have fallen, every one, And briar and bramble have grown over them.' 'That is the place. As usual no one is here. Hardly can I imagine the drop of the axe, And the smack that is like an echo, sounding here.' 'I do not understand.' 'Why, what I mean is That I have seen the place two or three times At most, and that its emptiness and silence And stillness haunt me, as if just before It was not empty, silent, still, but full Of life of some kind, perhaps tragical. Has anything unusual happened here?' 'Not that I know of. It is called the Dell. They have not dug chalk here for a century. That was the ash trees' age. But I will ask.' 'No. Do not. I prefer to make a tale, Or better leave it like the end of a play, Actors and audience and lights all gone; For so it looks now. In my memory Again and again I see it, strangely dark, And vacant of a life but just withdrawn. We have not seen the woodman with the axe. Some ghost has left it now as we two came,' 'And yet you doubted if this were the road?' 'Well, sometimes I have thought of it and failed To place it. No. And I am not quite sure, Even now, this is it. For another place, Real or painted, may have combined with it. Or I myself a long way back in time ...' 'Why, as to that, I used to meet a man - I had forgotten, - searching for birds' nests Along the road and in the chalk-pit too. The wren's hole was an eye that looked at him For recognition. Every nest he knew. He got a stiff neck, by looking this side or that, Spring after spring, he told me, with his laugh - A sort of laugh. He was a visitor, A man of forty, - smoked and strolled about. At orts and crosses Pleasure and Pain had played On his brown features; - I think both had lost; - Mild and yet wild too. You may know the kind. And once or twice a woman shared his walks, A girl of twenty with a brown boy's face, And hair brown as a thrush or as a nut, Thick eyebrows, glinting eyes -' 'You have said enough. A pair, - free thought, free love, - I know the breed: I shall not mix my fancies up with them.' 'You please yourself. I should prefer the truth Or nothing. Here, in fact, is nothing at all Except a silent place that once rang loud, And trees and us - imperfect friends, we men And trees since time began; and nevertheless Between us we still breed a mystery.' <h3> The Cherry Trees </h3> 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. <h3> The Child in the Orchard </h3> 'He rolls in the orchard: he is stained with moss And with earth, the solitary old white horse. Where is his father and where is his mother Among all the brown horses? Has he a brother? I know the swallow, the hawk, and the hern; But there are two million things for me to learn. 'Who was the lady that rode the white horse With rings and bells to Banbury Cross? Was there no other lady in England beside That a nursery rhyme could take for a ride? The swift, the swallow, the hawk, and the hern. There are two million things for me to learn. 'Was there a man once who straddled across The back of the Westbury White Horse Over there on Salisbury Plain's green wall? Was he bound for Westbury, or had he a fall? The swift, the swallow, the hawk, and the hern. There are two million things for me to learn. 'Out of all the white horses I know three, At the age of six; and it seems to me There is so much to learn, for men, That I dare not go to bed again. The swift, the swallow, the hawk, and the hern. There are millions things for me to learn.' <h3> The Child on the Cliffs </h3> Mother, the root of this little yellow flower Among the stones has the taste of quinine. Things are strange to-day on the cliff. The sun shines so bright, And the grasshopper works at his sewing machine So hard. Here's one on my hand, mother, look; I lie so still. There's one on your book. But I have something to tell more strange. So leave Your book to the grasshopper, mother dear, - Like a green knight in a dazzling market-place - And listen now. Can you hear what I hear Far out? Now and then the foam there curls And stretches a white arm out like a girl's. Fishes and gulls ring no bells. There cannot be A chapel or church between here and Devon, With fishes or gulls ringing its bell, - hark! - Somewhere under the sea or up in heaven. 'It's the bell, my son, out in the bay On the buoy. It does sound sweet to-day.' Sweeter I never heard, mother, no, not in all Wales. I should like to be lying under that foam, Dead, but able to hear the sound of the bell, And certain that you would often come And rest, listening happily. I should be happy if that could be. <h3> Cock-Crow </h3> Out of the wood of thoughts that grows by night To be cut down by the sharp axe of light, - Out of the night, two cocks together crow, Cleaving the darkness with a silver blow: And bright before my eyes twin trumpeters stand, Heralds of splendour, one at either hand, Each facing each as in a coat of arms: The milkers lace their boots up at the farms. <h3> The Combe </h3> The Combe was ever dark, ancient and dark. Its mouth is stopped with brambles, 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-thrush 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. <h3> The Cuckoo </h3> That's the cuckoo, you say. I cannot hear it. When last I heard it I cannot recall; but I know Too well the year when first I failed to hear it - It was drowned by my man groaning out to his sheep 'Ho! Ho!' Ten times with an angry voice he shouted 'Ho! Ho!' but not in anger, for that was his way. He died that Summer, and that is how I remember The cuckoo calling, the children listening, and me saying 'Nay'. And now, as you said, 'There it is', I was hearing Not the cuckoo at all, but my man's 'Ho! Ho!' instead. And I think that even if I could lose my deafness The cuckoo's note would be drowned by the voice of my dead. The Dark Forest Digging Digging A Dream Early One Morning Fifty Faggots First Known when Lost For These <h3> The Dark Forest </h3> Dark is the forest and deep, and overhead Hang stars like seeds of light In vain, though not since they were sown was bred Anything more bright. And evermore mighty multitudes ride About, nor enter in; Of the other multitudes that dwell inside Never yet was one seen. The forest foxglove is purple, the marguerite Outside is gold and white, Nor can those that pluck either blosom greet The others, day or night. <h3>Digging </h3> What matter makes my spade for tears or mirth, Letting down two clay pipes into the earth? The one I smoked, the other a soldier Of Blenheim, Ramillies, and Malplaquet Perhaps. The dead man's immortality Lies represented lightly with my own, A yard or two nearer the living air Than bones of ancients who, amazed to see Almighty God erect the mastodon, Once laughed, or wept, in this same light of day. <h3>Digging </h3> To-day I think Only with scents, - scents dead leaves yield, And bracken, and wild carrot's seed, And the square mustard field; Odours that rise When the spade wounds the root of tree, Rose, currant, raspberry, or goutweed, Rhubarb or celery; The smoke's smell, too, Flowing from where a bonfire burns The dead, the waste, the dangerous, And all to sweetness turns. It is enough To smell, to crumble the dark earth, While the robin sings over again Sad songs of Autumn mirth. <h3> A Dream </h3> Over known fields with an old friend in dream I walked, but came sudden to a strange stream. Its dark waters were bursting out most bright From a great mountain's heart into the light. They ran a short course under the sun, then back Into a pit they plunged, once more as black As at their birth; and I stood thinking there How white, had the day shone on them, they were, Heaving and coiling. So by the roar and hiss And by the mighty motion of the abyss I was bemused, that I forgot my friend And neither saw nor sought him till the end, When I awoke from waters unto men Saying: 'I shall be here some day again.' <h3> Early One Morning </h3> Early one morning in May I set out, And nobody I knew was about. I'm bound away for ever, Away somewhere, away for ever. There was no wind to trouble the weathercocks. I had burnt my letters and darned my socks. No one knew I was going away, I thought myself I should come back some day. 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. 'A fine morning, sir', a shepherd said. 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. I'm bound away for ever, Away somehwere, away for ever. <h3> Fifty Faggots </h3> There they stand, on their ends, the fifty faggots That once were underwood of hazel and ash In Jenny Pink'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 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. 'Twas a hot day for carrying them up: 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. <h3> First Known when Lost </h3> I never had noticed it until 'Twas gone, - the narrow copse Where now the woodman lops The last of the willows with his bill It was not more than a hedge overgrown. One meadow's breadth away I passed it day by day. Now the soil is bare as bone, And black betwixt two meadows green, Though fresh-cut faggot ends Of hazel made some amends With a gleam as if flowers they had been. Strange it could have hidden so near! And now I see as I look That the small winding brook, A tributary's tributary, rises there. <h3> For These </h3> An acre of land between the shore and the hills, Upon a ledge that shows my kingdoms three, The lovely visible earth and sky and sea Where what the curlew needs not, the farmer tills: A house that shall love me as I love it, Well-hedged, and honoured by a few ash trees That linnets, greenfinches, and goldfinches Shall often visit and make love in and flit: A garden I need never go beyond, Broken but neat, whose sunflowers every one Are fit to be the sign of the Rising Sun: A spring, a brook's bend, or at least a pond: For these I ask not, but, neither too late Nor yet too early, for what men call content, And also that something may be sent To be contented with, I ask of Fate. The Gallows A Gentleman The Glory Gone, Gone Again Good-Night The Green Roads The Gypsy <h3> The Gallows </h3> There was a weasel lived in the sun With all his family, Till a keeper shot him with his gun And hung him up on a tree, Where he swings in the wind and rain, In the sun and in the snow, Without pleasure, without pain, On the dead oak tree bough. There was a crow who was no sleeper, But a thief and a murderer Till a very late hour; and this keeper Made him one of the things that were, To hang and flap in rain and wind, In the sun and in the snow. There are no more sins to be sinned On the dead oak tree bough. There was a magpie, too, Had a long tongue and a long tail; He could talk and do - But what did that avail? He, too, flaps in the wind and rain Alongside weasel and crow, Without pleasure, without pain, On the dead oak tree bough. And many other beasts And birds, skin, bone, and feather, Have been taken from their feasts And hung up there together, To swing and have endless leisure In the sun and in the snow, Without pain, without pleasure, On the dead oak tree bough. <h3> A Gentleman </h3> 'He has robbed two clubs. The judge at Salisbury Can't give him more than he undoubtedly Deserves. The scoundrel! Look at his photograph! A lady-killer! Hanging's too good by half For such as he.' So said the stranger, one With crimes yet undiscovered or undone. But at the inn the Gipsy dame began: 'Now he was what I call a gentleman. He went along with Carrie, and when she Had a baby he paid up so readily His half a crown. Just like him. A crown'd have been More like him. For I never knew him mean. Oh! but he was such a nice gentleman. Oh! 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.' <h3> The Glory </h3> The glory of the beauty of the morning, - The cuckoo crying over the untouched dew; The blackbird that has found it, and the dove That tempts me on to something sweeter than love; White clouds ranged even and fair as new-mown hay; The heat, the stir, the sublime vacancy Of sky and meadow and forest and my own heart: - The glory invites me, yet it leaves me scorning All I can ever do, all I can be, Beside the lovely of motion, shape, and hue, The happiness I fancy fit to dwell In beauty's presence. Shall I now this day Begin to seek as far as heaven, as hell, Wisdom or strength to match this beauty, start And tread the pale dust pitted with small dark drops, In hope to find whatever it is I seek, Hearkening to short-lived happy-seeming things That we know naught of, in the hazel copse? Or must I be content with discontent As larks and swallows are perhaps with wings? And shall I ask at the day's end once more What beauty is, and what I can have meant By happiness? And shall I let all go, Glad, weary, or both? Or shall I perhaps know That I was happy oft and oft before, Awhile forgetting how I am fast pent, How dreary-swift, with naught to travel to, Is Time? I cannot bite the day to the core. <h3> Gone, Gone Again </h3> Gone, gone again, May, June, July, And August gone, Again gone by, Not memorable Save that I saw them go, As past the empty quays The rivers flow. And now again, In the harvest rain, The Blenheim oranges Fall grubby from the trees As when I was young - And when the lost one was here - And when the war began To turn young men to dung. Look at the old house, Outmoded, dignified, Dark and untenanted, With grass growing instead Of the footsteps of life, The friendliness, the strife; In its beds have lain Youth, love, age, and pain: I am sometimes like that; Only I am not dead, Still breathing and interested In the house that is not dark: - I am something like that: Not one pane to reflect the sun, For the schoolboys to throw at - They have broken every one. <h3> Good-Night </h3> The skylarks are far behind that sang over the down; I can hear no more those suburb nightingales; Thrushes and blackbirds sing in the gardens of the town In vain: the noise of man, beast, and machine prevails. But the call of children in the unfamiliar streets That echo with a familiar twilight echoing, Sweet as the voice of nightingale or lark, completes A magic of strange welcome, so that I seem a king Among men, beast, machine, bird, child, and the ghost That in the echo lives and with the echo dies. The friendless town is friendly; homeless, I am not lost; Though I know none of these doors, and meet but strangers' eyes. Never again, perhaps, after to-morrow, shall I see these homely streets, these church windows alight, Not a man or woman or child among them all: But it is All Friends' Night, a traveller's good-night. <h3> The Green Roads </h3> The green roads that end in the forest Are strewn with white goose feathers this June, Life marks left behind by someone gone to the forest To show his track. But he has never come back. Down each green road a cottage looks at the forest. Round one the nettle towers; two are bathed in flowers. An old man along the green road to the forest Strays from one, from another a child alone. In the thicket bordering the forest, All day long a thrush twiddles his song. It is old, but the trees are young in the forest, All but one like a castle keep, in the middle deep. That oak saw the ages pass in the forest: They were a host, but their memories are lost, For the tree is dead: all things forget the forest Excepting perhaps me, when now I see The old man, the child, the goose feathers at the edge of the forest, And hear all day long the thrush repeat his song. <h3> The Gypsy </h3> A fortnight before Christmas Gypsies were everywhere: Vans were drawn up on wastes, women trailed to the fair. 'My gentleman,' said one, 'you've got a lucky face.' 'And you've a luckier,' I thought, 'if such grace And impudence in rags are lucky.' 'Give a penny For the poor baby's sake.' 'Indeed I have not any Unless you can give change for a sovereign, my dear.' 'Then just half a pipeful of tobacco can you spare?' I gave it. With that much victory she laughed content. I should have given more, but off and away she went With her baby and her pink sham flowers to rejoin The rest before I could translate to its proper coin Gratitude for her grace. And I paid nothing then, As I pay nothing now with the dipping of my pen For her brother's music when he drummed the tambourine And stamped his feet, which made the workmen passing grin, While his mouth-organ changed to a rascally Bacchanal dance 'Over the hills and far away.' This and his glance Outlasted all the fair, farmer, and auctioneer, Cheap-jack, balloon-man, drover with crooked stick, and steer, Pig, turkey, goose, and duck, Christmas corpses to be. Not even the kneeling ox had eyes like the Romany. That night he peopled for me the hollow wooded land, More dark and wild than the stormiest heavens, that I searched and scanned Like a ghost new-arrived. The gradations of the dark Were like an underworld of death, but for the spark In the Gypsy boy's black eyes as he played and stamped his tune, 'Over the hills and far away,' and a crescent moon. Haymaking Health Head and Bottle The Hollow Wood Home 'Home' Home House and Man How at Once The Huxter <h3> Haymaking </h3> After night's thunder far away had rolled The fiery day had a kernel sweet of cold, And in the perfect blue the clouds uncurled, Like the first gods before they made the world And misery, swimming the stormless sea In beauty and in divine gaiety. The smooth white empty road was lightly strewn With leaves - the holly's Autumn falls in June - And fir cones standing up stiff in the heat. The mill-foot water tumbled white and lit With tossing crystals, happier than any crowd Of children pouring out of school aloud. And in the little thickets where a sleeper For ever might lie lost, the nettle creeper And garden-warbler sang unceasingly; While over them shrill shrieked in his fierce glee The swift with wings and tail as sharp and narrow As if the bow had flown off with the arrow. Only the scent of woodbine and hay new mown Travelled the road. In the field sloping down, Park-like, to where its willows showed the brook, Haymakers rested. The tosser lay forsook Out in the sun; and the long waggon stood Without its team:it seemed it never would Move from the shadow of that single yew. The team, as still, until their task was due, Beside the labourers enjoyed the shade That three squat oaks mid-feld together made Upon a circle of grass and weed uncut, And on the hollow, once a chalk pit, but Now brimmed with nut and elder-flower so clean. The men leaned on their rakes, about to begin, But still. And all were silent. All was old, This morning time, with a great age untold, Older than Clare and Cobbett, Morland and Crome, Than, at the field's far edge, the farmer's home, A white house crouched at the foot of a great tree. Under the heavens that know not what years be The men, the beasts, the trees, the implements Uttered even what they will in times far hence - All of us gone out of the reach of change - Immortal in a picture of an old grange. <h3> Health </h3> Four miles at a leap, over the dark hollow land, To the frosted steep of the down and its junipers black, Travels my eye with equal ease and delight: And scarce could my body leap four yards. This is the best and the worst of it - Never to know, Yet to imagine gloriously, pure health. To-day, had I suddenly health, I could not satisfy the desire of my heart Unless health abated it, So beautiful is the air in its softness and clearness, while Spring Promises all and fails in nothing as yet; And what blue and what white is I never knew Before I saw this sky blessing the land. For had I health I could not ride or run or fly So far or so rapidly over the land As I desire: I should reach Wiltshire tired; I should have changed my mind before I could be in Wales. I could not love; I could not command love. beauty would still be far off However many hills I climbed over; Peace would still be farther. Maybe I should not count it anything To leap these four miles with the eye; And either I should not be filled almost to bursting with desire, Or with my power desire would still keep pace. Yet I am not satisfied Even with knowing I never could be satisfied. With health and all the power that lies In maiden beauty, poet and warrior, In Caesar, Shakespeare, Alcibiades, Mazeppa, Leonardo, Michelangelo, In any maiden whose smile is lovelier Than sunlight upon dew, I could not be as the wagtail running up and down The warm tiles of the roof slope, twittering Happily and sweetly as if the sun itself Extracted the song As the hand makes sparks from the fur of a cat: I could not be as the sun. Nor should I be content to be As little as the bird or as mighty as the sun. For the bird knows not the sun, And the sun regards not the bird. But I am almost proud to love both bird and sun, Though scarce this Spring could my body leap four yards. <h3> Head and Bottle </h3> 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. <h3> The Hollow Wood </h3> Out in the sun the goldfinch flits Along the thistle-tops, flits and twits Above the hollow wood Where birds swim like fish - Fish that laugh and shriek - To and fro, far below In the pale hollow wood. Lichen, ivy, and moss Keep evergreen the trees That stand half-flayed and dying, And the dead trees on their knees In dog's-mercury and moss: And the bright twit of the goldfinch drops Down there as he flits on thistle-tops. <h3> Home </h3> Not the end: but there's nothing more. Sweet Summer and Winter rude I have loved, and friendship and love, The crowd and solitude: But I know them: I weary not; But all that they mean I know. I would go back again home Now. Yet how should I go? This is my grief. That land, My home, I have never seen; No traveller tells of it, However far he has been. And could I discover it, I fear my happiness there, Or my pain, might be dreams of return Here, to these things that were. Remembering ills, though slight Yet irremediable, Brings a worse, an impurer pang Than remembering what was well. No: I cannot go back, And would not if I could. Until blindness come, I must wait And blink at what is not good. <h3> 'Home'</h3> Fair was the morning, fair our tempers, and We had seen nothing fairer than that land, Though strange, and the untrodden snow that made Wild of the tame, casting out all that was Not wild and rustic and old; and we were glad. Fair too was afternoon, and first to pass Were we that league of snow, next the north wind. There was nothing to return for, except need, And yet we sang nor ever stopped for speed, As we did often with the start behind. Faster still strode we when we came in sight Of the cold roofs where we must spend the night. Happy we had not been there, nor could be, Though we had tasted sleep and food and fellowship Together long. 'How quick', to someone's lip The words came, 'will the beaten horse run home!' The word 'home' raised a smile in us all three, And one repeated it, smiling just so That all knew what he meant and none would say. Between three counties far apart that lay We were divided and looked strangely each At the other, and we knew we were not friends But fellows in a union that ends With the necessity for it, as it ought. Never a word was spoken, not a thought Was thought, of what the look meant with the word 'Home' as we walked and watched the sunset blurred. And then to me the word, only the word, 'Homesick', as it were playfully occurred: No more. If I should ever more admit Than the mere word I could not endure it For a day longer: this captivity Must somehow come to an end, else I should be Another man, as often now I seem, Or this life be only an evil dream. <h3> Home </h3> Often I had gone this way before But now it seemed I never could be And never had been anywhere else; 'Twas home; one nationality We had, I and the birds that sang, One memory. They welcomed me. I had come back That eve somehow from somewhere far: The April mist, the chill, the calm, Meant the same thing familiar And pleasant to us, and strange too, Yet with no bar. The thrush on the oaktop in the lane Sang his last song, or last but one; And as he ended, on the elm Another had but just begun His last; they knew no more than I The day was done. Then past his dark white cottage front A labourer went along, his tread Slow, half with weariness, half with ease; And, through the silence, from his shed The sound of sawing rounded all That silence said. <h3> House and Man </h3> One hour: as dim he and his house now look As a reflection in a rippling brook, While I remember him; but first, his house. Empty it sounded. It was dark with forest boughs That brushed the walls and made the mossy tiles Part of the squirrels' track. In all those miles Of forest silence and forest murmur, only One house - 'Lonely!' he said, 'I wish it were lonely' - Which the trees looked upon from every side, And that was his. He waved good-bye to hide A sigh that he converted to a laugh. He seemed to hang rather than stand there, half Ghost-like, half like a beggar's rag, clean wrung And useless on the brier where it has hung Long years a-washing by sun and wind and rain. But why I call back man and house again Is there now a beech-tree's tip I see As then I saw - I at the gate, and he In the house darkness, - magpie veering about, A magpie like a weathercock in doubt. <h3> How at Once </h3> How at once should I know, When stretched in the harvest blue I saw the swift's black bow, That I would not have that view Another day Until next May Again it is due? The same year after year - But with the swift alone. With other things I but fear That they will be over and done Suddenly And I only see Them to know them gone. <h3> The Huxter </h3> He has a hump like an ape on his back; He has of money a plentiful lack; And but for a gay coat of double his girth There is not a plainer thing on the earth This fine May morning. But the huxter has a bottle of beer; He drives a cart and his wife sits near Who does not heed his lack or his hump; And they laugh as down the lane they bump This fine May morning. Interval It Rains It Was Upon I Never Saw that Land Before I Built Myself a House of Glass <h3> Interval </h3> 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 beeches keep A stormy rest, Breathing deep Of wind from the west. 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. It smokes aloft Unwavering: It hunches soft Under storm's wing. It has no care For gleam or gloom: It stays there While I shall roam, Die, and forget The hill of trees, The gleam, the wet, This roaring peace. <h3> It Rains </h3> 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. <h3> It Was Upon </h3> It was upon a July evening. At a stile I stood, looking along a path Over the country by a second Spring Drenched perfect green again. 'The lattermath Will be a fine one.' So the stranger said, A wandering man. Albeit I stood at rest, Flushed with desire I was. The earth outspread, Like meadows of the future, I possessed. And as an unaccomplished prophecy The stranger's words, after the interval Of a score years, when those fields are by me Never to be recrossed, now I recall, This July eve, and question, wondering, What of the lattermath to this hoar Spring? <h3> I Never Saw that Land Before </h3> I never saw that land before, And now can never see it again; Yet, as if by acquaintance hoar Endeared, by gladness and by pain, Great was the affection that I bore To the valley and the river small, The cattle, the grass, the bare ash trees, The chickens from the farmsteads, all Elm-hidden, and the tributaries Descending at equal interval; The blackthorns down along the brook With wounds yellow as crocuses Where yesterday the labourer's hook Had sliced them cleanly; and the breeze That hinted all and nothing spoke. I neither expected anything Nor yet remembered: but some goal I touched then; and if I could sing What would not even whisper my soul As I went on my journeying, I should use, as the trees and birds did, A language not to be betrayed; And what was hid should still be hid Excepting from those like me made Who answer when such whispers bid. <h3> I Built Myself a House of Glass </h3> I built myself a house of glass: It took my years to make it: And I was proud. But now, alas! Would God someone would break it. But it looks too magnificent. No neighbour casts a stone From where he dwells, in tenement Or palace of glass, alone. July Liberty Lights Out Like the Touch of Rain The Lofty Sky The Long Small Room Lovers <h3> July </h3> Naught moves but clouds, and in the glassy lake Their doubles and the shadow of my boat. The boat itself stirs only when I break This drowse of heat and solitude afloat To prove if what I see be bird or mote, Or learn if yet the shore woods be awake. Long hours since dawn grew, - spread, - and passed on high And deep below, - I have watched the cool reeds hung Over images more cool in imaged sky: Nothing there was worth thinking of so long; All that the ring-doves say, far leaves among, Brims my mind with content thus still to lie. <h3> Liberty </h3> The last light has gone out of the world, except This moonlight lying on the grass like frost Beyond the brink of the tall elm's shadow. It is as if everything else had slept Many an age, unforgotten and lost - The men that were, the things done, long ago, All I have thought; and but the moon and I Live yet and here stand idle over a grave Where all is buried. Both have liberty To dream what we could do if we were free To do some thing we had desired long, The moon and I. There's none less free than who Does nothing and has nothing else to do, Being free only for what is not to his mind, And nothing is to his mind. If every hour Like this one passing that I have spent among The wiser others when I have forgot To wonder whether I was free or not, Were piled before me, and not lost behind, And I could take and carry them away I should be rich; or if 1 had the power To wipe out every one and not again Regret, I should be rich to be so poor. And yet I still am half in love with pain, With what is imperfect, with both tears and mirth, With things that have an end, with life and earth, And this moon that leaves me dark within the door. <h3> Lights Out </h3> I have come to the borders of sleep, The unfathomable deep Forest where all must lose Their way, however straight, Or winding, soon or late; They cannot choose. Many a road and track That, since the dawn's first crack, Up to the forest brink, Deceived the travellers, Suddenly now blurs, And in they sink. Here love ends, Despair, ambition ends; All pleasure and all trouble, Although most sweet or bitter, Here ends in sleep that is sweeter Than tasks most noble. There is not any book Or face of dearest look That I would not turn from now To go into the unknown I must enter, and leave, alone, I know not how. The tall forest towers; Its cloudy foliage lowers Ahead, shelf above shelf; Its silence I hear and obey That I may lose my way And myself. <h3> Like the Touch of Rain </h3> 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. <h3> The Lofty Sky </h3> To-day I want the sky, The tops of the high hills, Above the last man's house , His hedges, and his cows, Where, if I will, I look Down even on sheep and rook, And of all things that move See buzzards only above:- Past all trees, past furze And thorn, where nought deters The desire of the eye For sky, nothing but sky. I sicken of the woods And all the multitudes Of hedge-trees. They are no more Than weeds upon this floor Of the river of air Leagues deep, leagues wide, where I am like a fish that lives In weeds and mud and gives What's above him no thought. I might be a tench for aught That I can do to-day Down on the wealden clay. Even the tench has days When he floats up and plays Among the lily leaves And sees the sky, or grieves Not if he nothing sees: While I, I know that trees Under that lofty sky Are weeds, fields mud, and I Would arise and go far To where the lilies are. <h3> The Long Small Room </h3> The long small room that showed willows in the west Narrowed up to the end the fireplace filled, Although not wide. I liked it. No one guessed What need or accident made them so build. Only the moon, the mouse and the sparrow peeped In from the ivy round the casement thick. Of all they saw and heard there they shall keep The tale for the old ivy and older brick. When I look back I am like moon, sparrow, and mouse That witnessed what they could never understand Or alter or prevent in the dark house. One thing remains the same - this my right hand Crawling crab-like over the clean white page, Resting awhile each morning on the pillow, Then once more starting to crawl on towards age. The hundred last leaves stream upon the willow. <h3> Lovers </h3> The two men in the road were taken aback. The lovers came out shading their eyes from the sun, And never was white so white, or black so black, As her cheeks and hair. `There are more things than one A man might turn into a wood for, Jack,' Said George; Jack whispered: `He has not got a gun. It's a bit too much of a good thing, I say. They are going the other road, look. And see her run.' She ran. - 'What a thing it is, this picking may!' <hr> http://www.demon.co.uk/review/library/thomas00.html See The Richmond Review for these poems and many other things of literary interest.