Tag Archives: Edward Thomas

8 April: Edward Thomas’ Anniversary

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.

MMB

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3 January: If I should ever grow rich.

gorse

Where the road cuts through the belt of sandy soil near Ezra’s place are clumps of gorse, filled with rabbit runs which his little terriers love to explore. The first week of the year, and the gorse is in flower. This always brings a smile to my lips, remembering Edward Thomas.

‘If  I should ever by chance grow rich’, he wrote, he would buy local beauty spots and let them all to his elder daughter for a rent of the year’s first white violets, primroses and orchids, if she should find them before he did. I don’t know what these flowers were doing a century ago, but on January 1st last year the violets by our door were blooming – look under the leaves –  primroses were out next door, and, though this is cheating, Mrs Turnstone’s Christmas orchid is flowering next to the crib.

When his poem was first published, some readers saw a touch of cruelty in Thomas’s poem, not understanding his next thought:

‘ But if she find a blossom on furze
Without rent they shall all forever be hers.’

The joke was on them, had they but realised it, for gorse, or furze, can be found in flower every day of the year. Thomas was giving his child all this beauty without condition. It is given to us too, had we but eyes to see it. Not Solomon in all his glory was clothed as one of these. (Matthew 6: 28, 29) Was Jesus perhaps cracking a joke when he preached this parable, to show us that we don’t know as much as we think we do?

If I Should Ever by Chance by Edward Thomas

If I should ever by chance grow rich
I’ll buy Codham, Cockridden, and Childerditch,
Roses, Pyrgo, and Lapwater,
And let them all to my elder daughter.
The rent I shall ask of her will be only
Each year’s first violets, white and lonely,
The first primroses and orchises–
She must find them before I do, that is.
But if she finds a blossom on furze
Without rent they shall all for ever be hers,
Codham, Cockridden, and Childerditch,
Roses, Pyrgo and Lapwater,–
I shall give them all to my elder daughter.

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Interruption: Dylan Day

 waiting wood

The leaves are just colouring the ends of the twigs on the trees, but the gorse is always in flower.

 We should not let Dylan day pass unacknowledged, even if we missed Shakespeare’s birthday, mea culpa. 

Dylan is a great story teller. He proclaims in the prologue to his Collected Poems: ‘Hark: I trumpet the place.’ The place is Wales, eternal Wales, God’s own Wales – with all its people’s failings. That small Principality is concentrated Under Milk Wood, between the sea and Llareggub Hill. As Mary Ann Sailors says:

‘It is Spring in Llareggub in the sun of my old age, and this is the Chosen Land.’

mercylogoUnder Milk Wood celebrates life, a ‘greenleaved sermon on the innocence of men’. Hearing the words brings sight to our inward eye, insight to our hearts. The townspeople are brought to God by the Reverend Eli Jenkins, who like his Biblical namesake praises his Creator morning and evening. For him, Llareggub is an earthly paradise that he prays he may ‘for all my life and longer … never, never leave’. Eli is not blind to the sins of his flock, but they receive Blake’s blessing of ‘mercy, pity, peace and love’ rather than condemnation. his appreciation of Polly Garter reminds me of a saintly priest in my youth, doffing his hat to an unmarried mother shunned by many. ‘Poor Ivy,’ said Fr Lea, ‘she’s had more than her share of troubles.’

Let us celebrate life, and open our inward eyes to the innocence, rather than just the faults, of those we live and work with.

MMB.

 

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On Not Taking Nothing for Granted.

raincloudsCaernarfon

Rain clouds near Caernarfon, April 2015.

Edward Thomas’s love of the natural world speaks to me, and his love of his children. Yet he was prone to depression and deep negativity. He was married and a father when he wrote:

I am alone. There is nothing else in my world but my dead heart and brain within me and the rain without.

Quoted by Robert Macfarlane in Landmarks, Hamish Hamilton, 2015, p245.

Thomas would walk his moods off, or at least try to. Walking, and observing.

Another observer is Fr James Kurzynski, an astronomer, for whom the heavens proclaim the Lord. He repeats Paul’s challenge:

Where, O death, is your victory?  

Where, O death, is your sting? (1 Corinthians 15:55)

ww.vofoundation.org/blog/o-death-sting-exploring-mystery-life-death/

The whole post is worth reading more than once. Kurzynski reminds us that Jesus was alone in the Garden of Gethsemane and prayed out of his loneliness. He did not take Nothing for for granted, but wrestled with it, and the angels ministered to him.

Sometimes wrestling with Nothing may mean carrying on ‘as if’ – as if all is well. We may not be able to pray as Jesus did, we may find it tempting to turn away from the Father, but our walk might well be to our own Emmaus: a friend may walk with us, angels may minister to us. We may only recognise them later. (Luke 24)

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