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Selected Poetry of Edward Thomas (1878-1917)


from Representative Poetry On-line
Prepared by members of the Department of English at the University of Toronto
from 1912 to the present and published by the University of Toronto Press from 1912 to 1967.
RPO Edited by Ian Lancashire
A UTEL (University of Toronto English Library) Edition
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries
© 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto

Index to poems

Blessed are the dead that the rain rains upon:
But here I pray that none whom once I loved
Is dying to-night or lying still awake
Solitary, listening to the rain,
Either in pain or thus in sympathy
Helpless among the living and the dead
        (Rain)
  1. Adlestrop
  2. Lights Out
  3. October
  4. Rain
  5. Snow
  6. The Word


Notes on Life and Works

Born March 3, 1878, in London, Edward Thomas had his education at St. Paul's School and Lincoln College, Oxford University, from which he graduated in 1900 with a history degree. Having married Helen Noble in 1899 and with a baby son, Merfyn, to support, Thomas became a professional writer. In his brief 15-year career he produced over two dozen books and many dozens of reviews. He focused on local history and literary figures. His books dealt with such authors as George Borrow, William Cobbett, John Dyer, George Herbert, Richard Jefferies, John Keats, Christopher Marlowe, Walter Pater, and Algernon Charles Swinburne. As his family grew with the birth of daughters Bronwen (1902) and Myfanwy (1910), so did his financial problems. He intermittently fell ill from 1903 onward. Thomas only began writing poems in late 1914 after a visit from Robert Frost. A pseudonym Edward Eastaway, used in Six Poems (1916), enabled him to isolate poetry from his professional writing. In 1915 his two years of war service began when he joined the Artists' Rifles. After spending some months as a map-reading instructor at Hare Hall Camp in Romford, he became an officer cadet and was commissioned as Second Lieutenant, 244 Siege Battery, R. G. A., and volunteered for overseas duty in late 1916. Just before he left England he looked over the proofs of his contributions to An Annual of New Poetry. Thomas died from a shell explosion on April 9, 1917, at Ronville, just as the Arras offensive started. The diary he carried held a picture of Helen.

Biographical information

Given name: Edward
Family name: Thomas
Birth date: 3 March 1878
Death date: 9 April 1917
Nationality: Welsh
Family relations
          father: Philip Henry Thomas
          mother: Mary Elizabeth Thomas
          wife: Helen Thomas (from 1899)
Language: English
Education
          St. Paul's School
          Lincoln College, Oxford (B.A.): 1897 to 1900
Literary period: Georgian
Occupation: Soldier
Residences
          Lambeth, Wales: 3 March 1878
          Bearsted, Kent: 1901
          The Weald, Sevenoaks: 1903
          Petersfield: 1908
Cause of death: War casualty
First RPO edition: 1999