Edward Thomas

1878-1917

 

Edward Thomas is buried in Agny Military Cemetery, France, Europe. (Row C, Grave 43.)

The Grave of Edward Thomas

Thomas was born in London in 1878 - the eldest son of Welsh parents. He was educated at St Paul's School in London, where he won a scholarship to Lincoln College Oxford. While a student at Oxford he met and married Helen Noble and the first of their three children, Merfyn, was born while Thomas was still an undergraduate. On leaving Oxford, Thomas was determined to support his family by writing and so he embarked on an arduous period of prose writing which included: journalism, topographical books and essays. He also undertook biographies of Keats, Swinburne and the writer and naturalist Richard Jefferies.

In 1914 Thomas was introduced to the American poet Robert Frost who encouraged him to write poetry. Thomas and Frost were part of a group of poets who were living together in the Gloucestershire village of Dymock just before the outbreak of the first world war. (See Dymock Poets.)

In 1915 Thomas joined the Artist's Rifles and while stationed at Hare Hall Camp in Essex he wrote many of his finest poems. (Wilfred Owen joined the Artist's Rifles two months later.) Thomas' unit reached Flanders in early 1917 and he was killed on Easter Monday  (April 9th) on the first day of the Battle of Arras. He was standing next to the Beaurains Observation Post when a shell exploded near by.

With the exception of six poems published under the pseudonym Edward Eastaway, none of his poetry was published before his death.

Like his friend Frost, Thomas' poetry employed a simple, understated style which relied heavily upon natural speech patterns.

Agny Cemetery
Photographs supplied by kind permission of
The Edward Thomas Fellowship
 

Unlike Sassoon and Owen few of his poems were overtly concerned with the horrors of World War 1 - but reflected instead his intense love of the English countryside e.g. As the Team's Head-Brass, Celandine, Rain and Digging.

His work was also important in helping to create a break from the more florid, metrical style of the Romantic and Victorian poets. His influence can clearly be seen in the work of subsequent poets such as: Philip Larkin, Ted Hughes and Seamus Heaney.

Thomas is also commemorated in 'Poets' Corner', Westminster Abbey, London and by memorial windows in the churches at Steep (Hampshire) and Eastbury (Berkshire).

See also Georgian Poets.

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

Thaw

Read more of Thomas's poetry

Edward Thomas Fellowship

 


Photograph by David Dukes

 

 


 

 

 
 
 
 

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