Archive for Edward Thomas

Out in the Dark – by Edward Thomas / Killed in Action – by W.H. Davies

Posted in History, Poetry with tags , , , , on November 8, 2020 by telescoper

Out in the dark over the snow
The fallow fawns invisible go
With the fallow doe ;
And the winds blow
Fast as the stars are slow.

Stealthily the dark haunts round
And, when the lamp goes, without sound
At a swifter bound
Than the swiftest hound,
Arrives, and all else is drowned ;

And star and I and wind and deer,
Are in the dark together, – near,
Yet far, – and fear
Drums on my ear
In that sage company drear.

How weak and little is the light,
All the universe of sight,
Love and delight,
Before the might,
If you love it not, of night.

by Edward Thomas (1878-1917).

Edward Thomas was killed in action at the Battle of Arras. His friend W.H. Davies was devastated by this and responded by writing this poem called Killed in Action (Edward Thomas):

Happy the man whose home is still
In Nature’s green and peaceful ways;
To wake and hear the birds so loud,
That scream for joy to see the sun
Is shouldering past a sullen cloud.

And we have known those days, when we
Would wait to hear the cuckoo first;
When you and I, with thoughtful mind,
Would help a bird to hide her nest,
For fear of other hands less kind.

But thou, my friend, art lying dead:
War, with its hell-born childishness,
Has claimed thy life, with many more:
The man that loved this England well,
And never left it once before.



The Manor Farm, by Edward Thomas

Posted in Literature with tags , on February 7, 2018 by telescoper

The rock-like mud unfroze a little, and rills
Ran and sparkled down each side of the road
Under the catkins wagging in the hedge.

But earth would have her sleep out, spite of the sun;
Nor did I value that thin gliding beam
More than a pretty February thing
Till I came down to the old manor farm,
And church and yew-tree opposite, in age
Its equals and in size.
The church and yew
And farmhouse slept in a Sunday silentness.

The air raised not a straw.
The steep farm roof,
With tiles duskily glowing, entertained
The mid-day sun; and up and down the roof
White pigeons nestled.
There was no sound but one.

Three cart horses were looking over a gate
Drowsily through their forelocks, swishing their tails
Against a fly, a solitary fly.

The winter’s cheek flushed as if he had drained
Spring, summer, and autumn at a draught
And smiled quietly.
But ’twas not winter–
Rather a season of bliss unchangeable,
Awakened from farm and church where it had lain
Safe under tile and latch for ages since
This England, Old already, was called Merry.


by Edward Thomas (1878-1917; he died at Arras, France, in April 1917).


The Owl

Posted in Poetry with tags , , on February 7, 2016 by telescoper

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.

by Edward Thomas (1878-1917)


Posted in Biographical, Poetry with tags , , on December 28, 2010 by telescoper

Back from the Frozen North, after a very enjoyable but over-indulgent Christmas, I just thought I’d pop on line to say hello to the blogosphere again.

I flew up to Newcastle in the late afternoon on Christmas Eve from Cardiff airport via an airline called Eastern Airways which operates the only direct flight on that route. I booked the flight some time ago, as I was a bit nervous it might fill up given the annual chaos on the railways over the holiday. As it turned out, the outbound flight on Christmas Eve had only five passengers on it; the return, yesterday, just six. Obviously they’re not making a lot of money on this route!

The plane was a small propeller-driven affair which can seat a maximum of 29 passengers. I thought I’d get a nice picture of the sunset at Cardiff as we took off, but unfortunately the vibration of the engines made that quite difficult, as you can see from the blurry effort shown above. Despite the inclement weather and the snow and ice at both airports, outward and return flights kept immaculately to schedule.

Newcastle was cold and snowbound so me and my folks stayed in, ate and drank a lot, lounged around watching a bit of telly here and there, warmed by news of the cricket from Melbourne (of which more, hopefully, tomorrow!) and were otherwise entertained by their cats Tilly, Daisy and Lucy. It was very pleasant but the combination of eating and drinking too much and not taking much exercise has no doubt left me quite a few pounds heavier. I haven’t plucked up courage to weigh myself yet.

Anyway, I got back safely yesterday evening and said hello to Columbo (who, incidentally, is doing fine). Pretty much as soon as I got into the house it started raining, which it did most of the night. The thaw is definitely in full swing, and soon quite a few of my neighbours will no doubt be out doing repairs. Several lengths of guttering have fallen off various houses on my street, pulled down by the weight of accumulated snow and ice. There’s now also much less danger of me falling over on the slippery pavements like I did just before Christmas. Why can’t that happen when there’s nobody watching? It’s so embarrassing…

I’m not so foolish as to think that the melting of this lot of snow means that winter is over, but the thaw did remind me of this nice little poem by Edward Thomas, yet another Welsh poet and yet another killed during the First World War, in his case in 1917 at the Battle of Arras.

OVER the land half freckled with snow half-thawed
The speculating rooks at their nests cawed,
And saw from elm-tops, delicate as a flower of grass,
What we below could not see, Winter pass.


National Poetry Day

Posted in Poetry with tags , , on October 7, 2010 by telescoper

In case you hadn’t realised, today is National Poetry Day. I sometimes post poems on here whenever I have the urge – either because they’re favourites of mine or because they seem topical. For a change, and to celebrate the special nature of today, I thought I’d try to solicit some from my friends and colleagues via Facebook or Twitter.

This, Welsh Landscape by R.S. Thomas, was suggested by Rhodri Evans.

To live in Wales is to be conscious
At dusk of the spilled blood
That went into the making of the wild sky,
Dyeing the immaculate rivers
In all their courses.
It is to be aware,
Above the noisy tractor
And hum of the machine
Of strife in the strung woods,
Vibrant with sped arrows.
You cannot live in the present,
At least not in Wales.
There is the language for instance,
The soft consonants
Strange to the ear.
There are cries in the dark at night
As owls answer the moon,
And thick ambush of shadows,
Hushed at the fields’ corners.
There is no present in Wales,
And no future;
There is only the past,
Brittle with relics,
Wind-bitten towers and castles
With sham ghosts;
Mouldering quarries and mines;
And an impotent people,
Sick with inbreeding,
Worrying the carcase of an old song.

This one, Beauty, by Edward Thomas was suggested by Steve Eales.

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 when 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, hapily
Floats through a 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 unanswering to its home and love.
There I find my rest, and through the dusk air
Flies what yet lives in me. Beauty is there

Here’s one from me. I learnt it at school where I studied German for one year before giving it up. I had a rather eccentric teacher who thought the best way to learn a language was to read poetry rather than learning how to say banal things like “Please can you direct me to the railway station?”. It wasn’t a very good idea, but at least it left me with bits of German poetry still in my head over 30 years later. I can still remember every word of this wonderful poem by Goethe

Kennst du das Land wo die Zitronen Blühn,
Im dunklen Laub die Gold-Orangen glühn,
Ein sanfter Wind vom blauen Himmel weht,
Die Myrte still und hoch der Lorbeer steht,
Kennst du es wohl?
Dahin! Dahin,
Möcht ich mit dir, o mein Geliebter, ziehn.

Kennst du das Haus? Auf Säulen ruht sein Dach,
Es glänzt der Saal, es schimmert das Gemach,
Und Marmorbilder stehn und sehn mich an:
Was hat man dir, du armes Kind getan?
Kennst du es wohl?
Dahin! Dahin
Möcht ich mit dir, o mein Beschützer, ziehn!

Kennst du den Berg und seinen Wolkensteg?
Das Maultier sucht im Nebel seinen weg:
In Höhlen wohnt der Drachen alte Brut;
Es stürzt der Fels und über ihn die Flut,
Kennst du ihn wohl?
Dahin! Dahin
Geht unser weg! o Vater, laß uns ziehn!

If you have a favourite of your own you’d like to suggest, please let me know through the suggestions box…