On 9 April, tomorrow’s date, a hundred years ago, Edward Thomas was killed in the Battle of Arras. He had enlisted in 1915 despite being a mature married man with children. Here is one of his poems, with the sadness of War not far beneath the surface. It matters not whether the trees were in England, France or his imagination: the desolation and the beauty are inseparable and painful.
The Cherry Trees
The cherry trees bend over and are shedding,
On the old road where all that passed are dead,
Their petals, strewing the grass as for a wedding,
This early May morn when there is none to wed.
The photograph shows an orchard of new cherry trees at Amery Court, Canterbury. They will spend their spring-times protected from ravages of wind, rain, and birds and squirrels by nets rolled out on frames overhead. Few petals will reach the old road, now part of Cycle Route 1 from Dover to Scotland. But the farmer trusts that the expense of planting these trees will be repaid with many a harvest.
Edward Thomas and so many like him trusted that they were putting their lives on the line to help save England and bring about the end of War…
Also tomorrow we remember the Prince of Peace coming into Jerusalem, riding on a donkey, not a tank or armoured car. And it is still not too late to pray and strive for Peace, starting by sowing a seed of love and peace in our own hearts.
And may Edward Thomas and all who fell in War, through the mercy of God, rest in Peace. Amen.