Edward Thomas, poet. Died 9 April, 1917.
Edward Thomas was perhaps the best of the poets sometimes referred to as Georgians. These traditionalists shared a common love of nature and the English countryside. Although old enough to be excused from service, Thomas enlisted in the Artists’ Rifles where he achieved the rank of corporal before being commissioned in the Royal Garrison Artillery as a second lieutenant. Although listed as killed in action at the Battle of Arras in 1917, Thomas had survived the actual battle only to be struck down by the concussive blast of the of one of the last shells fired. It seems that he stood up to light his pipe.
Before the war Thomas had been friendly with the American poet Robert Frost and it’s said that Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken” was addressed to Thomas and spurred his decision to enlist. His death was a great loss for English literature in general and for the Georgian school in particular. Had he survived the war, his gentle traditionalism and love of the land might have been a useful counterbalance to the surrealists of the 1930s.