When he was killed in action, Edward Thomas was mourned as an essayist, biographer and one of the foremost critics of his time, but his reputation as a poet had not yet been established. The discovery of his talent for poetry, sparked off by his meeting with the American poet Robert Frost on the eve of the First World War, was a turning point in his life. After sixteen years of frustration and self-doubt as a writer of prose, he had found a new and more confident voice, and the outbreak of war brought release from the demand for reviews and commissioned work so that he was free to write as he felt moved.
A fine biographical essay by Eliane Wilson introduces the 80 poems chosen to reflect the poet’s deep love of England and his affinity with nature. The beauty of the words have been enhanced by the fine calligraphy and sensitive pencil drawings of Frederick Marns.
The endpapers reproduce the memorial windows at Steep and Eastbury, engraved by Laurence Whistler, dedicated to Edward and Helen Thomas.
“… a real poet, with the truth in him” was how a Times Literary Supplement reviewer described Edward Thomas shortly before his death in 1917 at the battle of Arras.
Later Walter de la Mere wrote: “When Edward Thomas was killed, a mirror of England was shattered of so pure and true a crystal that a clearer and tenderer reflection of it can be found no other where than in these poems…”