More from the tramps ..... Find!
By complete surprise, One Green Field by Edward Thomas dropped out of my newspaper on Saturday. I found this a delight to read, and definitely a find for me, as I had not read any of Thomas's prose before. It is an acutely observed account of Edward Thomas's wanderings through the English countryside, drawn from two books published in 1906, South Country and The Heart of England. The first chapter follows Thomas's wanderings along the Pilgrims' Way, crossing county boundaries between Canterbury and Winchester. Observation, information and reflection are gently fused together. There is great attention to detail, with plants and animals identified by their names - meadow-sweet, white wood-sorrel, cuckoo flower, sedge-warbler, jay, willow-wren, beech, oak, birch etc. By contrast, place names are rarely given, but Kemsing is identified in this extract:
Those [oast houses] at Kemsing, for example, stand worthily beside the perfect grey-shingled spire, among elm and damson, against the bare cloudy Down.
After a bit of sleuthing I discovered that, in 1901, Thomas was living with his family in Rose Acre Cottage in Bearstead, near Maidstone, but wandering must have been in his blood, and he seems to have moved home several times.
(See entry in ODNB http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/36480)
As Rob has already mentioned, when Thomas was living near Sevenoaks, he became a close friend and mentor of 'Tramp' author, W H Davies. http://www.readingdetectives.org/kent/2009/09/the-kent-tramp-trail.html
Tragically, like so many of his generation, Thomas lost his life in the 1st World War, killed in the Battle of Arras in 1917. The following year, W H Davies published the poem Killed in Action (Edward Thomas), marking the loss of his special friend:
Happy the man whose home is still
In Nature's green and peaceful ways;
To wake and hear the birds so loud,
That scream for joy to see the sun
Is shouldering past a sullen cloud.
And we have known those days, when we
Would wait to hear the cuckoo first;
When you and I, with thoughtful mind,
Would help a bird to hide her nest,
For fear of other hands less kind.
But thou, my friend, art lying dead:
War, with its hell-born childishness,
Has claimed thy life, with many more;
The man that loved this England well,
And never left it once before.
23 September 2009 from Julia
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- Launch of Kent's Reading Detectives Team on 12 August
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- Reading Detectives are starting soon in Kent
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