Edward Thomas was a British poet, nature writer and literary critic. Born in London in 1878, he was educated at Oxford, and first started his writing career as a book reviewer and prose writer; he turned to poetry much later in life, greatly encouraged by one of his closest friends, the famous American poet Robert Frost. Thomas died in 1917, killed in action during the Battle of Arras, France, in World War 1.
The poem I’ve chosen for this post is titled “The Bridge”. Thomas often reflected on the landscapes, the countryside and various things he would encounter on his—often solitary—walks. This one is also a meditation on remembrance, with a bridge as a real but also symbolic representation of that liminal space between the Past and the Future.
It reminded me of a series of photos I took several years ago, some of them featured in this post. I took them in a small beach town in Croatia while on one of my own strolls; I remember being in a mood not unlike that captured by Thomas. That old wobbly bridge has since been replaced by a more sturdy concrete structure, but in my mind it still looks like that, still standing as a symbol for this moment brief between two lives.
At the end of the post you will find the links to additional resources on this wonderful Georgian poet.
I have come a long way to-day: On a strange bridge alone, Remembering friends, old friends, I rest, without smile or moan, As they remember me without smile or moan. All are behind, the kind And the unkind too, no more To-night than a dream. The stream Runs softly yet drowns the Past, The dark-lit stream has drowned the Future and the Past. No traveller has rest more blest Than this moment brief between Two lives, when the Night’s first lights And shades hide what has never been, Things goodlier, lovelier, dearer, than will be or have been.
Edward Thomas, Robert Frost and the road to war