War seemed such an unlikely outcome for him. Frost’s famous poem ‘The Road Not Taken’ was actually written for Edward Thomas, during a period of indecision. The encounter would leave Thomas haunted, to relive the moment again and again. Introduction and Text of "To E. T." The initials are those of Edward Thomas, with whom Robert Frost had formed a close friendship while Frost resided in England. But Thomas's prevarication got the better of him once more, and though conscription had yet to be introduced, he told Frost of the equal pull of the war in France. Edward Thomas was killed on the first day of the battle of Arras, Easter 1917, surviving just over two months in France. There was a problem loading your book clubs. And in that company I learned that I am something which no fortune can touch, whether I be soon to die or long years away. The two paths, he wrote, had been worn "really about the same", and "equally lay / In leaves no step had trodden black", showing the reader that neither road was more or less travelled, and that choices may in some sense be equal. "He gave me standing as a poet," Frost said of Thomas, "he more than anyone else." Thomas was himself a wonderful writer. He's in the vein of Robert Frost, and it is a sad sad thing that he didn't live to write more, and mature as a poet. "Last week I had screwed myself up to the point of believing I should come out to America & lecture if anyone wanted me to. Many were the walks when Thomas would guide Frost on the promise of rare wild flowers or birds' eggs, only to end in self-reproach when the path he chose revealed no such wonders. To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number. He was killed on the first day of the battle of Arras, Easter 1917; he had survived little more than two months in France. Reviewed in the United Kingdom on June 30, 2020, Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 27, 2017. In theory I like the way Edward Thomas writes his poems but every time I try to become a fan I fail. "I had known that the struggle going on in his spirit would end like this," his wife wrote. Would he do anything at all? Robert Frost and Helen Thomas: Five Revealing Letters WILLIAM R. EVANS. Such a figure would indeed arrive to help him in his distress – Robert Frost. But this friendship – the most important of either man's life – would falter at a key moment, and Thomas would go to war. Frost called these their "talks–walking": and in them, their conversations ranged over marriage and friendship, wildlife, poetry and the war. "That's why he went to war," said Frost later. We don’t share your credit card details with third-party sellers, and we don’t sell your information to others. And on the latter, at least, he won his battle. He had been quick to identify the brilliance of a young American in London called Ezra Pound, and instrumental in shaping the early reception of Walter de la Mare, WH Davies and many others besides; and he was quite undaunted in taking to task the literary giants of the day if they fell below the mark, be they Thomas Hardy, Rudyard Kipling or WB Yeats. The men turned back, Frost angrily, Thomas hesitantly, but the gamekeeper was no longer on the road. For a year, Thomas would question himself this way. In six months, Frost would flee England for the safety of New Hampshire; he would take Thomas's son with him in the expectation that the rest of the Thomas family would follow. Whenever Thomas visited Frost in 1914, they would walk out together on the fields of Gloucestershire; wherever they walked, they moved in an instinctive sympathy. As evidence, here are the final lines from his short story “The Stile.”. He was indifferent to the politics of the conflict, but he had begun to weigh up the worth of the land beneath his feet and the way of life that it supported. Learn how your comment data is processed. The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot (Landscapes). Yet his personal war was never with a military opponent: it had been with his ravaging depression and with his struggle to find a literary expression through poetry that was worthy of his talents. What happened next would be a defining moment in Frost and Thomas's friendship, and would plague Thomas to his dying days. War is, for the most part, futile. "Our life together never was, as it were, on the level – " Helen reflected candidly after his death, "it was either great heights or great depths." with a 1/3 moon bright and almost orange low down clear of cloud and I thought of men east-ward seeing it at the same moment. He despised himself for the pain he inflicted on them and would leave home, sometimes for months on end, to spare them further agony. However, Frost later expressed chagrin that most audiences took the poem more seriously than he had intended; in particular, Thomas took it seriously and personally, and it provided the last straw in Thomas’ decision to enlist in World War I. Top subscription boxes – right to your door, © 1996-2020, Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates. A pastoral poet of rare gifts, especially his "later" poems (although, given his late start in poetry and his untimely death in 1917, none of the poems are far removed from each other in time.) His family were mostly Welsh. He was crippled by a depression that had afflicted him since university. Please try again. His work seems distinctly modern in its recognition of the interdependence of human beings and the natural world, more closely attuned to our own ecological age than that of the first world war. This shopping feature will continue to load items when the Enter key is pressed. With no call, the problem is endless.". For Thomas and Frost that entailed a fidelity to the phrase rather than to the metrical foot, to the rhythms of speech rather than those of poetic conventions, to what Frost liked to call "cadence".
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