• Words

Whenever I find myself in need of a good dictionary – and this happens all too often – I remember that one of my favourite poets, Edward Thomas (1878-1917), wrote a poem with such a spring in its step that it never fails to remind me that sometimes I should let the right word instead ‘choose me’, as Thomas memorably puts it.  So here are the final eight lines of Words (1915), briefer than brief, but more eloquent than many a long verse:

Let me sometimes dance
With you,
Or climb
Or stand perchance
In ecstasy,
Fixed and free
In a rhyme,
Like poets do.

After my current writing project I’m going to sequester myself with two books by and about Thomas that I’ve been really looking forward to reading: Thomas’s account of his journey through the English countryside in The South Country (1909, republished 2009) and Matthew Hollis’s just-released biography of Thomas’s last years, Now All Roads Lead to France.  By all accounts, Hollis brings his poet’s insight and a penetrating eye to this extraordinarily raw episode in English literature.

Paul Nash: Ruined Country (1918)

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