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Archive for the ‘Other Poets’ Category

Jack’s bookshelf contained work by many poets but probably more by, and about, Edward Thomas than any other. But it wasn’t until after Jack’s death when I read his poem “A Celebration” (the subject of my last post) that I realised how much this poet had influenced him. Until this time I had not read much of Thomas’s work and would only have been able to quote what is probably his best known poem: “Adlestrop”. I have since read much more of his work and found it full of richness.

Edward Thomas was born in London of Welsh parents and was killed in action in France during the First World War. This has led to him usually being included as one of the “War Poets”. However, unlike others of that name, such as Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon his poetry was not predominantly about war. Indeed he was a poet before he was a soldier and had not enlisted until 1916.

His father had wanted him to join the Civil Service but Edward wished to make his living as a writer from the outset. Most of his early output was prose about the English countryside, which he loved, literary reviews and articles. The stress of struggling to make a living in this way plus his “Celtic Soul” caused him to suffer from bouts of melancholy and depression all his life.

He was instrumental is bringing W H Davies to the public’s attention and was greatly influenced by his good friend Robert Frost. It was Frost who encouraged him to write poetry. He liked nothing more than walking alone in the countryside, observing nature and the rural way of life and this is reflected in much of his work. He began to be aware how much of this was threatened by the coming war and was full of a desire to record the old ways before they were lost forever. With his realism of approach and phrasing of natural speech his poetry moved away from the conventional rhymes, flowery language and ideals of earlier generations of poets and helped to bring poetry into the modern era.

It was this subject matter and style that I believe is what Jack reacted to. He saw in himself something of a kindred spirit as he, in his own way, wished to record the way of life from his own childhood between the two World Wars. He too mourned the loss of a time of greater tranquility and a much slower pace of life than we have today.

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