The Annotated Collected Poems
Edward Thomas (Author) Edna Longley (Editor)
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DescriptionEdward Thomas wrote a lifetime's poetry in two years. Already a dedicated prose writer and influential critic, he became a poet only in December 1914, at the age of 36. In April 1917 he was killed at Arras. Often viewed as a 'war poet', he wrote nothing directly about the trenches; also seen as a 'nature poet', his symbolic reach and generic range expose the limits of that category too. A central figure in modern poetry, he is among the half-dozen poets who remade English poetry in the early 20th century. Edna Longley published an acclaimed edition of Edward Thomas' "Poems" and "Last Poems" in 1973. Her work advanced Thomas' reputation as a major modern poet. Now she has produced a revised version, which includes all his poems and draws on freshly available archive material. The extensive notes contain substantial quotations from Thomas' prose, letters and notebooks, as well as a new commentary on the poems. The prose hinterland behind Edward Thomas' poems helps us to understand their depth and complexity, together with their contexts in his troubled personal life, in wartime England, and in English poetry. Edna Longley also shows how Thomas' criticism feeds into his poetry, and how he prefigured critical approaches, such as 'ecocriticism', that are now applied to his poems. The text of this edition, which has a detailed textual apparatus, differs in small but significant ways from that of other extant collections of Thomas' poems. The Bloodaxe edition is larger (with more comprehensive notes) than Faber's "Collected Poems" by Edward Thomas as well as a pound cheaper. More importantly, for academic sales, the Bloodaxe text is more authoritative than Faber's (which uses R. George Thomas' 1978 text). Edna Longley has used manuscripts, proofs and newly available archive material to establish a text for Edward Thomas' complete poetry which will now be used by scholars and students in all future discussions of his work.
May 28, 2008
6.1 X 9.2 X 0.9 inches | 1.4 pounds
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About the Author
Edward Thomas (1878-1917) called himself 'mainly Welsh'. He grew up in London, but developed a passion for Nature. Hating the economic forces that had destroyed agricultural communities and expanded cities, Thomas absorbed, as his poetry shows, the literary and folk traditions of the English countryside. After studying history at Oxford, he lived in rural southern England, particularly Steep in Hampshire. He supported his family by writing reviews, country books, biography and criticism. Overwork caused (sometimes suicidal) depression and creative despair. This self-styled 'hurried & harried prose man' could not find a 'form that suits me'. Yet books such as The South Country (1909) and In Pursuit of Spring (1914) fertilised the poetry which - prompted by Robert Frost - Thomas began to write in December 1914. An influential poetry-reviewer, Thomas had praised Frost's North of Boston as 'revolutionary'. And its 'absolute fidelity to the postures which the voice assumes in the most expressive intimate speech' clarified his own artistic direction. Thomas's poem 'The sun used to shine' celebrates the poets' friendship, but also suggests Thomas's darker inspiration - the Great War. Although over-age, he enlisted in the Artists' Rifles (July 1915). He was killed at Arras (April 1917) before his first collection, Poems, appeared. Edna Longley's edition of his poetry, The Annotated Collected Poems (Bloodaxe Books, 2008), has established the most authoritative text of his work, and has the most comprehensive notes and critical apparatus of any edition.
Edna Longley's definitive new edition of Edward Thomas's Collected Poems makes a case for the enduring, essential relevance to the 21st century of this English poet who died in World War I. The book is a crowning achievement by Thomas's best advocate, approachable by the beginner and invaluable to the specialist, with a critical apparatus which is at once a biography tracing the growth of the poet's mind and an engrossing anthology of his vivid, melancholy prose.' - Seamus Heaney, Sunday Business Post (Dublin)