Sunday, January 06, 2008

Roads shining like river up hill after rain

The final entry in the war diary of landscape poet Edward Thomas is dated 8 April 1917 – he was killed the next day at 7.36 am by a shell blast:

'8. A bright warm Easter day but Achicourt shelled at 12.39 and then at 2.15 so that we all retired to the cellar. I had to go over to battery at 3 for a practice barrage, skirting the danger zone, but we were twice interrupted. A 5.9 fell 2 yards from me as I stood by the f/c post. One burst down the back of the office and piece of dust scratched my neck. No firing from 2-4. Rubin left for a course.'

The Faber ‘Collected Poems’ also reproduces these brief notes Thomas made on the last pages of the diary:

'The light of the new moon and every star

And no more singing for the bird...

I never understood quite what was meant by God

The morning chill and clear hurts my skin while it delights my mind Neuville in early morning with its flat straight crest with trees and houses – the beauty of this silent empty scene of no inhabitants and hid troops, but don’t know why I could have cried and didn’t'

Loose inside the diary there was a photograph and a slip of paper with several addresses and these words:

'Where any turn may lead to Heaven

Or any corner may hide Hell

Roads shining like river up hill after rain.'

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