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The Legacy of the Dymock Poets

Posted on 16th February 2017

This year is the centennial of the death of Edward Thomas, who was killed during the battle of Arras on the 9th April 1917. Prior to his military service, Edward Thomas was part of the Dymock Poets, and though he never resided in the village itself, he held a firm friendship with famous poet Robert Frost. In fact, ‘The Road Not Taken’, Frost’s most famous poem, is based on Thomas’ indecisiveness on their walks together.

Daffodils near Dymock

The village of Dymock sits in The Forest of Dean area of Gloucestershire and rose to fame between 1911 and 1914 when it became the home of the literary group that inherited its name. The group’s members were Lascelles Abercrombie, Rupert Brooke, John Drinkwater, Robert Frost, Edward Thomas and Wilfrid Wilson Gibson, all of whom lived around or visited the village during that period and contributed to their own quarterly named New Numbers.

It was an advance copy of ‘The Road Not Taken’, a friendly satire of Thomas’ character that led to his enlisting in the military, though Frost had not meant it to have such an effect. After Edward Thomas’ death two years later, the community went their separate ways. The group, while thriving in Dymock and after their parting, found much inspiration in the landscape of the Forest of Dean, as it continued to influence their work.

While staying in a holiday cottage in the Forest of Dean, visiting Dymock and the surrounding areas that these literary giants once walked is a beautiful way to spend a day. Relax and take an afternoon to revel in a countryside that inspired some of the most famous poetry of its time.

“The Sun Used to Shine” by Edward Thomas

The sun used to shine while we two walked

Slowly together, paused and started

Again, and sometimes mused, sometimes talked

As either pleased, and cheerfully parted

 

Each night. We never disagreed

Which gate to rest on. The to be

And the late past we gave small heed.

We turned from men or poetry

 

To rumours of the war remote

Only till both stood disinclined

For aught but the yellow flavorous coat

Of an apple wasps had undermined;

 

Or a sentry of dark betonies,

The stateliest of small flowers on earth,

At the forest verge; or crocuses

Pale purple as if they had their birth

 

In sunless Hades fields. The war

Came back to mind with the moonrise

Which soldiers in the east afar

Beheld then. Nevertheless, our eyes

 

Could as well imagine the Crusades

Or Caesar’s battles. Everything

To faintness like those rumours fade—

Like the brook’s water glittering

 

Under the moonlight—like those walks

Now—like us two that took them, and

The fallen apples, all the talks

And silence—like memory’s sand

 

When the tide covers it late or soon,

And other men through other flowers

In those fields under the same moon

Go talking and have easy hours.

 

Image Credit: P J Photography (Shutterstock)