Spring was late in 1913 and Edward Thomas decided to go and search for winter’s grave and the tell-tale signs of season’s turn. On Good Friday, March 21st, Thomas set out to cycle westwards from London.
“I had a wish of a mildly imperative nature that Spring would be arriving among the Quantocks at the same time as myself… Spring would come fast, not slowly, up that way.”
Over nine days Thomas notes the changes obvious in the landscape and in the birdsong; describes his routes and churchyard visits; but he also muses on earlier poets and writers such as Coleridge and Wordsworth, and on their interest in the countryside.
The Pursuit of Spring, originally published in 1914, bridges the divide between Thomas the journalist/critic and Thomas the highly regarded poet.
Edward Thomas 1878-1917 was a journalist and literary critic – a close friend of Robert Frost and a champion of W H Davies. He turned from writing prose to poetry in 1914, encouraged by Robert Frost who had recognised an innate poetry in Thomas’s prose writing.
His work as a poet has been celebrated and admired by W H Auden, Cecil Day-Lewis, Dylan Thomas, Philip Larkin, Andrew Motion, Michael Longley and in 1985 Ted Hughes described Thomas as “the father of us all”.
Edward Thomas died on Easter Monday 1917 at the battle of Arras.