BLTC Press Titles


available for Kindle at Amazon.com


Theory of Colours

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


The Count of Monte Cristo

Alexandre Dumas


The Worm Ouroboros

E. R. Eddison


The Art of Worldly Wisdom

Baltasar Gracian


Collected poems

by Edward Thomas

Excerpt:

Pt t,

HS5

v j

Foreword

All that Edward Thomas was as a friend lies half-

concealed in his poems. He wrote many books. A fy\ £\ i Aj

few of them—" Light and Twilight," " The Happy-

Go-Lucky Morgans," the " Richard Jefferies," for

instance — were of his own choice, after his own heart.

Many of the others were in the nature of obligations

thrust upon him. For to be able not to write for a

living, but in happy obedience to the life within,

it is necessary to gain a livelihood.

Edward Thomas's independence, his fine sense of literature, his love of truth, his delicate yet vigorous intuition are never absent even in his merest journey- . . work. Yet there cannot but be a vital difference' in the thing done solely for its own sake. He toiled on, " Happy sometimes, sometimes suffering a heavy body and a heavy heart " under the grimmest disciplinarian a man can have — himself.

Nevertheless his rarer faculties were obviously not such as can please a wide public ; nor was he possessed of some of the admirable faculties that can and do. He was not a born story-teller ; nor that chameleonic creature, a dramatist. He had little invention or fantasy. He detested mere cleverness ; and compromise was alien to his nature. He could delight in " a poor man of any sort down to a king " ; but the range is obviously exclusive and graduated. He was

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not therefore possessed of the happy and dangerous facility or inspiration of being all things to all men. Faithful and solitary lover of the lovely that is not beloved by most of us at much expense, he could not, then, as have other men of genius and talent, at once woo fame and win fortune. Personality indeed may be the profoundest incentive of a man's life ; and compared with a true artist's conscience, Tamerlane is tender-hearted.

A man, too, may be an artist—though not a great artist—at a rather severe cost to his humanity. Edward Thomas's desire as an artist was to express the truth about himself and his reality. It is far less art in a sense that is the target of his poems than life, emancipation, self-possession, and the self- safrifice which is the truest realisation. Late in his life, when he seems almost to have given up hope of it, came to him this sudden creative impulse, the incentive of a new form into which he could pour his thoughts, feelings and experience with ease and freedom and delight. Utterly unforeseen also may have been the discovery that he was born to live and die a soldier. Yet in those last years, however desperate at times the distaste and disquiet, however sharp the sacrifice, he found an unusual serenity and satisfaction. His comradeship, his humour blossomed over. He plunged back from books into life, and wrote only for sheer joy in writing. To read " The Trumpet," "Tears," or "This is no Case of Petty Right or Wrong," is to realise the brave spirit that compelled him to fling away the safety which without the least loss of honour he might have accepted, and to go back to his men, and his guns, and death. These poems show, too, that he was doubly homesick, for this and for another world, no less clearly than they show how intense a happiness was the fruition of his livelong hope and desire to prove himself a poet. On the one side his " Words " :

Out of us all

That make rhymes,

Will you choose

Sometimes—

As the winds use

A crack in a wall

Or a drain,

Their joy or their pain

To whistle through—

Choose me,

You English words ?

I know you:

You are light as dreams,

Tough as oak,

Precious as gold,


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