Sunday, 25 August 2013

NOW ALL ROADS LEAD TO FRANCE – Matthew Hollis, 2011

I’m annoyed with myself that I knew so little about Edward Thomas, yet thought I knew so much.
The term ‘war poet’ is so misleading when applied to Thomas. He may have died at Arras but he wrote few poems about War. Some, such as In Memoriam (Easter 1915) deal with the effect of war but he is no patriotic Rupert Brooke or cynical Siegfried Sassoon.
This book is excellent at revealing how Thomas came to be a poet. Previously a writer of prose, he only changed form in the last three years of his life. He always wrote poetically and he kept a constant record of his thought and observations. His regeneration as a poet came about through the re-working of these ideas. Hollis reveals the account which Thomas wrote of the time his train stopped at the deserted railway station at Adlestrop which will seem very familiar to those who love the poem and it is easy to see from it how the lyrical quality to his work was there all along.

This is a fascinating study, made even more so, by the ever present knowledge of how it will end. 

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