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Edward Thomas: Selected Poems (Bloomsbury Poetry Classics)

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Since his tragic death in the First World War, Edward Thomas has emerged as a major poet of the English tradition. This selection, made by a poet who shares Edward Thomas's deep but unsentimental feeling for and response to nature, reinforces Thomas's claim to centrality. Since his tragic death in the First World War, Edward Thomas has emerged as a major poet of the English tradition. This selection, made by a poet who shares Edward Thomas's deep but unsentimental feeling for and response to nature, reinforces Thomas's claim to centrality.


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Since his tragic death in the First World War, Edward Thomas has emerged as a major poet of the English tradition. This selection, made by a poet who shares Edward Thomas's deep but unsentimental feeling for and response to nature, reinforces Thomas's claim to centrality. Since his tragic death in the First World War, Edward Thomas has emerged as a major poet of the English tradition. This selection, made by a poet who shares Edward Thomas's deep but unsentimental feeling for and response to nature, reinforces Thomas's claim to centrality.

30 review for Edward Thomas: Selected Poems (Bloomsbury Poetry Classics)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jan-Maat

    Do I remember Adlestrop? This was one of my A-Level set texts. Now, in hindsight, it seems absolutely crazy that I sat down and read these and worse wrote essays and even worse essays with opinions when I knew nothing of his context as a poet, of his work as a literary editor or of his friendship with Robert Frost (some similarities between their verse hovers on the edge of my consciousness) (view spoiler)[and how easy it is to forget what span of time Frost's life encompassed, from the first wor Do I remember Adlestrop? This was one of my A-Level set texts. Now, in hindsight, it seems absolutely crazy that I sat down and read these and worse wrote essays and even worse essays with opinions when I knew nothing of his context as a poet, of his work as a literary editor or of his friendship with Robert Frost (some similarities between their verse hovers on the edge of my consciousness) (view spoiler)[and how easy it is to forget what span of time Frost's life encompassed, from the first world war to President Kennedy's inauguration (hide spoiler)] . The Road Not Taken was apparently inspired by a woodland walk the two of them took together involving a quarrel with a gamekeeper, this walk and the conversation the two men had, it has been suggested, lead eventually to Thomas' decision to join the British army which in turn lead to his death at the front during WWI. Still it says something about us that we ask students to write about these things and value them when they give the appearance of having a suitable knowledge of the author and their context, beyond what they might reasonably had, even if they had been reading The Children's Book. There is though pleasure in these things when pieces fall into place over time, and the whole makes a new kind of sense, even when one sits on a train in a country station on one occasion for longer than expected. Reading Selected Poems and Prose brought me back to his poetry and I notice how grim his tone mostly is, he thinks he sees snowbells in one poem but then realises what he sees are the sun bleached shells of dead snails, there are some nice poems about what he would like to bequeath himhis daughters and wife then I think, hang on such gifts are generally made in the context of one's own death! Lyrical poems deal with abandoned farm buildings and felled trees leaving one with a taste of decay and loss. There is isolation and alienation in the midst of nature, the thought that one may remember a moment as pleasant with it the suggestion that he does not experience it as happy. Motion I felt gave him some relief from his own unquiet mind but not enough, maybe cycling was the pastime that might have suited him better or like some of his contemporaries paganism or homosexuality, because his life as he lived it did not seem to have suited him too well. He has a delightfully keen eye but I don't recommend him for those in search of joy or peace outside the grave.

  2. 4 out of 5

    James

    I found this a fascinating collection and insight into the genesis, craft, development and the mind of an author. Thomas seemingly began as a literary reviewer and critic, progressing to write books on commission and then prose and eventually verse (often revisiting works of prose to form the basis of verse). Indeed it took Thomas until he was 36 until he wrote his first poem in 1914 – ‘Up in The Wind’. Thomas suffered from, was diagnosed with and treated for depression and indeed did make prepa I found this a fascinating collection and insight into the genesis, craft, development and the mind of an author. Thomas seemingly began as a literary reviewer and critic, progressing to write books on commission and then prose and eventually verse (often revisiting works of prose to form the basis of verse). Indeed it took Thomas until he was 36 until he wrote his first poem in 1914 – ‘Up in The Wind’. Thomas suffered from, was diagnosed with and treated for depression and indeed did make preparations to end his life on at least two separate occasions. Death seems to be never too far away in many of the themes explored in his poems. Central themes interwoven throughout Thomas’ poetry and key to his work are England and the primarily the English countryside. Indeed his decision to enlist to fight in the Great War appears to have been motivated be his overwhelming desire to protect the English land and countryside. Whilst England and the countryside are ever present in many of Thomas’ poems, they are explored in a meaningful, powerful and affecting way and I don’t think in a way that could be considered as in any way self-indulgent or twee. The poetry that stands out the most from this collection for me as follows: The Other Snow Lob In Memoriam (Easter 1915) The Bridge I built myself a house of glass Words As the teams head brass No one cares less than I The sun used to shine The Gallows Gone gone again Of the stronger earlier writings: Insomnia and Rain – the latter being a very powerful meditation on depression (written whilst Thomas was suffering from it at the time). Two minor observations: ‘After You Speak’ contains the line: ‘Like a black star’ – a possible reference point for David Bowie? ‘The Gallows’ – a possible precursor for some of Ted Hughes work? At the end of this collection, are fascinating and moving excerpts from Thomas’ diary, which was undiscovered until the 1970’s (Thomas tragically died in the Battle of Arras in 1917). The final pages of which include the draft of a poem. As with other poets of the Great War and beyond the obvious personal and human tragedy, is the loss of all the great literary works that would undoubtedly have otherwise been produced.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Lucy

    http://www.therapythroughtolstoy.com/... Thomas's poetry so beautifully encapsulates what England means to him, but also questions deeper concerns of belonging and nationality. Thomas felt torn between London, where his work and writing circles were based, and the English countryside that he commemorates in his writing. Yet Thomas's Welsh heritage led him to doubt whether he could truly be "English". He felt that living in England was “like a homesickness, but stronger”, and the closest he could f http://www.therapythroughtolstoy.com/... Thomas's poetry so beautifully encapsulates what England means to him, but also questions deeper concerns of belonging and nationality. Thomas felt torn between London, where his work and writing circles were based, and the English countryside that he commemorates in his writing. Yet Thomas's Welsh heritage led him to doubt whether he could truly be "English". He felt that living in England was “like a homesickness, but stronger”, and the closest he could feel to belonging was by spending time in nature: “I was home: one nationality/ We had, I and the birds that sang,/ One memory” (Home [3] 4-6). It is the birds and trees that “welcomed [the speaker]” after he had “come back […] from somewhere far” (7-8), perhaps when others didn’t. “Nationality” in this poem is also a fluid and evolving concept, rather than fixed. The migratory thrushes that the speaker relates to (“they knew no more than I/ The day was done” ([17-18]) would have recently returned from Southern Europe, the month being April. This figurative framework of national identity does not allow for displacement; a “single nationality” is constantly shared and members are always “welcomed” back. I've never found a poet that has better expressed my views of the English countryside, nor one that can depict the complex feelings and emotions I've felt in the past. "Rain" is probably the poem by Thomas that resonates most with me, and I'll be sure to return to it for a long time to come.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Ben Doeh

    Probably the greatest English nature poet after Wordsworth. Also one of the exceptionally talented war poets (Owen, Rosenberg, Gurney, Thomas are the finest in my opinion). Except it doesn't read like war poetry because it's so deeply bound up with Thomas's love of English landscapes - the soil, the wind, rivers, coombes, his countrymen the birds (not the jingoists whom he despised) - that it's also nature poetry. Then that recurrent phrase "the dead", and that hovering sense behind the intense Probably the greatest English nature poet after Wordsworth. Also one of the exceptionally talented war poets (Owen, Rosenberg, Gurney, Thomas are the finest in my opinion). Except it doesn't read like war poetry because it's so deeply bound up with Thomas's love of English landscapes - the soil, the wind, rivers, coombes, his countrymen the birds (not the jingoists whom he despised) - that it's also nature poetry. Then that recurrent phrase "the dead", and that hovering sense behind the intense images of permanence, that there's a constant threat of dissolution. Since ET wrote all 140 poems in an extraordinary 26 months at the end of his 39 year life, this judicious selection also includes some of his finest prose from his many years as a journalist and writer, and then extracts from the stubbornly affecting war diary. Matthew Hollis has done a superb job so that it feels more intimate and personal than most poetry selections.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

    I throughly enjoyed this collection of poetry. There definitely were a few that stood out more to me: The Owl, Interval, Like the Touch of Rain, Rain, The Thrush, What will they do? and Beauty. I definitely recommed this collection of poetry to anyone who enjoys poetry or has a love of it.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    It’s really hard to frame in a goodreads review the picture I’m building in my mind the more WW1 poetry/biographies of said poets I read. The jarring (in a constructive way) thing about this collection is that the majority of it is his 17 year old writings in the countryside, up to his fully-formed adult poetry. (The fact that he didn’t write poetry and didn’t consider himself a poet till so late in life will never cease to surprise me given how good he is.) And, after a full 150 pages of pastor It’s really hard to frame in a goodreads review the picture I’m building in my mind the more WW1 poetry/biographies of said poets I read. The jarring (in a constructive way) thing about this collection is that the majority of it is his 17 year old writings in the countryside, up to his fully-formed adult poetry. (The fact that he didn’t write poetry and didn’t consider himself a poet till so late in life will never cease to surprise me given how good he is.) And, after a full 150 pages of pastoral poems and notes, much of which is about the area where I live, to then see this beautiful poet dropped onto the battlefield and talking about the “machine fun corps” and strafing and shelling, it just gives you such a sense of how each and every person that died on the battlefield did not belong there. It is easy, given that we always refer to the “soldiers” of WW1 and 2, to imagine that these people who fought and died had been in the army, trained for many years and were just waiting to be posted to see some action, the way we think about soldiers and the military nowadays. But Edward Thomas, like the many, many other men who were also killed, was not a particularly young man any more, he had a wife and 3 children, he’d been to university and had a career in literary criticism and was finding footing writing poetry about the countryside, and exchanging letters with his friend Robert Frost. And then he reluctantly enlisted towards the end of the war, stuck in terrible, cold conditions and promptly blown up. His war diary towards the end feels so incongruous next to his poetry from before, and that is what is so important about it. It serves as a reminder of just how much was sacrificed, by so many people who weren’t natural born fighters and hardly had time to look around and see what kind of topsy turvy surreality their world had become before they were killed. I’ve not really actually talked much about the content of the book here - safe to say, he has a lovely sense of rhyme and metre, and poetry that magnifies and appreciates the countryside is my favourite kind. It’s a shame that Edward Thomas is one of the lesser of the well-known war poets (I suppose as he didn’t actually write any war poetry in that sense) however he is wonderful and worth reading - I want to read his biography next. 3.5/5 stars

  7. 5 out of 5

    Mimi Carstairs

    My absolute favourite poet; Hollis' selection certainly did not disappoint! A great many of my favourites featured, as well as many I had never read before. The selection showcased Thomas' nature poetry in an accessible manner, which I greatly appreciated. I also enjoyed the diary entries from Thomas' brief time in the war, as well as the extensive notes on individual poems. My favourite has to be "Rain", a deeply melancholic look on the emotional effects of World War One on the soldiers-in-trai My absolute favourite poet; Hollis' selection certainly did not disappoint! A great many of my favourites featured, as well as many I had never read before. The selection showcased Thomas' nature poetry in an accessible manner, which I greatly appreciated. I also enjoyed the diary entries from Thomas' brief time in the war, as well as the extensive notes on individual poems. My favourite has to be "Rain", a deeply melancholic look on the emotional effects of World War One on the soldiers-in-training. 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 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 towards what is perfect and Cannot, the tempest tells me, disappoint. A wonderful collection. I would urge everyone to read Thomas' work as he truly was a master poet.

  8. 4 out of 5

    August

    This is the audiobook version of Edward Thomas poetical works. Barnaby Edwards does a good job with the reading.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Greg

    Hollis writes in the introduction that “Edward Thomas was a poet of strong gentleness, long in quick thinking. His poems rarely resolve; they avoid convenience, mistrust rhetoric and ostentation, and have the effect of lingering on the senses as a scent does or a thought on its way towards completion. He chose the phrase rather than the foot as his unit of composition, and would frequently break his rhythm inventively across his line-endings in ways that conjured the effect of a perpetually form Hollis writes in the introduction that “Edward Thomas was a poet of strong gentleness, long in quick thinking. His poems rarely resolve; they avoid convenience, mistrust rhetoric and ostentation, and have the effect of lingering on the senses as a scent does or a thought on its way towards completion. He chose the phrase rather than the foot as his unit of composition, and would frequently break his rhythm inventively across his line-endings in ways that conjured the effect of a perpetually forming moment.” I think this description has merit. I found his poems something of a Clare modernized, and similar in effect to Frost. Three poems really stood out to me as my favorites within this collection. “Beauty” 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, as though the dusk air Flies what yet lives in me: Beauty is there. “First known when lost” 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 was bare as a 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. “I built myself a house of glass” I built myself a house of glass: It took me years to make it: And I was proud. But now, alas, Would God someone would break it. But it looks too magnificent. No neighbor casts a stone From where he dwells, in tenement Or palace of glass, alone. See my other reviews here!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Helene Harrison

    Review - I read this when I was in high school as part of a module on War Literature, but what really brought it home to me was a trip to northern France and Belgium on a tour of war sites i.e. Menin Gate, Thiepval, etc. There is no better way to get a sense of the barbarity, loss and incredible strength in the First World War than by reading these poems in one of the places where men sacrificed themselves or are buried underfoot. General Subject/s? - World War One / Poetry / War Poetry / Literat Review - I read this when I was in high school as part of a module on War Literature, but what really brought it home to me was a trip to northern France and Belgium on a tour of war sites i.e. Menin Gate, Thiepval, etc. There is no better way to get a sense of the barbarity, loss and incredible strength in the First World War than by reading these poems in one of the places where men sacrificed themselves or are buried underfoot. General Subject/s? - World War One / Poetry / War Poetry / Literature Recommend? – Yes Rating - 20/20

  11. 5 out of 5

    Allan

    Have enjoyed this volume of poems from one of the "war poets"- although none of his poems were ever written from the trenches. He died in France in 1917 after just 3 months at the Front. His poems are filled with lots of countryside imagery and wonderful observations of nature and country people. Thomas is a perceptive writer and he produces evocative pictures, albeit generally with an undercurrent of melancholy (he struggled with depression). Adelstrop remains my favourite: "Yes. I remember Adel Have enjoyed this volume of poems from one of the "war poets"- although none of his poems were ever written from the trenches. He died in France in 1917 after just 3 months at the Front. His poems are filled with lots of countryside imagery and wonderful observations of nature and country people. Thomas is a perceptive writer and he produces evocative pictures, albeit generally with an undercurrent of melancholy (he struggled with depression). Adelstrop remains my favourite: "Yes. I remember Adelstrop- 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 Adelstrop-only the name....."

  12. 4 out of 5

    Katrine Solvaag

    I picked up the book knowing nothing about Thomas and by the ends I was in love with his words. I'll never be able to look at violets nor snow nor rain the same again. Not to mention the heartbreak of reading his journal entries from his time fighting in the war. With his simple language Thomas breaks through to the core of what he wants to say, rather than dancing around the bush while throwing about a bunch of complicated, fancy words. If you are unsure, look up and read at least these poems: I picked up the book knowing nothing about Thomas and by the ends I was in love with his words. I'll never be able to look at violets nor snow nor rain the same again. Not to mention the heartbreak of reading his journal entries from his time fighting in the war. With his simple language Thomas breaks through to the core of what he wants to say, rather than dancing around the bush while throwing about a bunch of complicated, fancy words. If you are unsure, look up and read at least these poems: "Snow", "The Gallows" and "If I should every by chance".

  13. 5 out of 5

    Ruby

    After reading Ted Hughes poetry which consisted mostly about nature I wasn't looking forward to reading Edward Thomas's Selected Poems. But after reading this, it pretty much changed my views on poems based around nature. I loved how in every poem Thomas managed to relate nature to every aspect in his poetry, whether it revolving around the themes melancholy or love he depicted it beautifully. After reading Ted Hughes poetry which consisted mostly about nature I wasn't looking forward to reading Edward Thomas's Selected Poems. But after reading this, it pretty much changed my views on poems based around nature. I loved how in every poem Thomas managed to relate nature to every aspect in his poetry, whether it revolving around the themes melancholy or love he depicted it beautifully.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Annji

    Different edition, I think, but still some beautiful language. Steeped in landscape.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Chloë

    Rating: 3.5 stars

  16. 5 out of 5

    Kirsty

  17. 5 out of 5

    Hannah

  18. 4 out of 5

    Roger Wilsher

  19. 4 out of 5

    Sol

  20. 5 out of 5

    Christopher Sanderson

  21. 5 out of 5

    Atifa

  22. 4 out of 5

    Steph

  23. 5 out of 5

    Victoria L

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kat

  25. 4 out of 5

    Rob

  26. 4 out of 5

    Aaron

  27. 4 out of 5

    Verity Livick

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jodie Payne

  29. 4 out of 5

    Charlotte Coyne

  30. 5 out of 5

    Lisajean

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