Edward Thomas and Englishness

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David
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Edward Thomas and Englishness

Post by David » Mon Jul 09, 2007 8:57 pm

Now look, I am not English, as I may have mentioned from time to time (if not continually and ad nauseam), but it does seem to me that Englishness is unfairly (or, if not unfairly, at least too much and almost exclusively) regarded as essentially not something - not Scottish, not Welsh, not Irish, not part of the colourful Celtic fringe. (Can I say fringe? Is that Anglocentric?)

And that is true, up to a point, but surely there is also a good old down home old time English weirdness, maybe not so much English as relating to some particular place (each to its own) in England that is itself quintessentially English - does anybody know what I am talking about here?

Geoffrey Chaucer, William Shakespeare, William Blake - that's what I'm talking about. Good old English weirdness. And Edward Thomas. Does anybody know this one? It should be your national poem. (If you find your attention starting to wander, don't give up. Just when you might think it's going to drown in its own tweeness, it moves up several gears of wonderfulness, round about He sounds like one I saw when I was a child).

Lob

At hawthorn-time in Wiltshire travelling
In search of something chance would never bring,
An old man's face, by life and weather cut
And coloured, - rough, brown, sweet as any nut,
A land face, sea-blue-eyed, - hung in my mind
When I had left him many a mile behind.
All he said was: 'Nobody can't stop 'ee. It's
A footpath, right enough. You see those bits
Of mounds - that's where they opened up the barrows
Sixty years since, while I was scaring sparrows.
They thought as there was something to find there,
But couldn't find it, by digging, anywhere.'

To turn back then and seek him, where was the use?
There were three Manningfords, - Abbots, Bohun, and Bruce:
And whether Alton, not Manningford, it was,
My memory could not decide, because
There was both Alton Barnes and Alton Priors.
All had their churches, graveyards, farms, and byres,
Lurking to one side up the paths and lanes,
Seldom well seen except by aeroplanes;
And when bells rang, or pigs squealed, or cocks crowed,
Then only heard. Ages ago the road
Approached. The people stood and looked and turned.
Nor asked it to come nearer, nor yet learned
To move out there and dwell in all men's dust.
And yet withal they shot the weathercock, just
Because 'twas he crowed out of tune, they said;
So now the copper weathercock is dead.
If they had reaped their dandelions and sold
Them fairly, they could have afforded gold.

Many years passed, and I went back again
Among those villages, and looked for men
Who might have known my ancient. He himself
Had long been dead or laid upon the shelf,
I thought. One man I asked about him roared
At my description: ' 'Tis old Bottlesford
He means, Bill.' But another said: 'Of course,
It was Jack Button up at the White Horse.
He's dead, sir, these three years.' This lasted till
A girl proposed Walker of Walker's Hill,
'Old Adam Walker. Adam's Point you'll see
Marked on the maps.'
'That was her roguery.'
The next man said. He was a squire's son
Who loved wild bird and beast, and dog and gun
For killing them. He had loved them from his birth,
One with another, as he loved the earth.
'The man may be like Button, or Walker, or
Like Bottlesford, that you want, but far more
He sounds like one I saw when I was a child.
I could almost swear to him. The man was wild
And wandered. His home was where he was free.
Everybody has met one such man as he.
Does he keep clear old paths that no one uses
But once a lifetime when he loves or muses?
He is English as this gate, these flowers, this mire.
And when at eight years old Lob-lie-by-the-fire
Came in my books, this was the man I saw.
He has been in England as long as dove and daw,
Calling the wild cherry tree the merry tree,
The rose campion Bridget-in-her-bravery;
And in a tender mood he, as I guess,
Christened one flower Love-in-idleness,
And while he walked from Exeter to Leeds
One April called all cuckoo-flowers Milkmaids.
From him old herbal Gerard learnt, as a boy,
To name wild clematis the Traveller's-joy.
Our blackbirds sang no English till his ear
Told him they called his Jan Toy "Pretty dear".
(She was Jan Toy the Lucky, who, having lost
A shilling, and found a penny loaf, rejoiced.)
For reasons of his own to him the wren
Is Jenny Pooter. Before all other men
'Twas he first called the Hog's Back the Hog's Back.
That Mother Dunch's Buttocks should not lack
Their name was his care. He too could explain
Totteridge and Totterdown and Juggler's Lane:
He knows, if anyone. Why Tumbling Bay,
Inland in Kent, is called so, he might say.

'But little he says compared with what he does.
If ever a sage troubles him he will buzz
Like a beehive to conclude the tedious fray:
And the sage, who knows all languages, runs away.
Yet Lob has thirteen hundred names for a fool,
And though he never could spare time for school
To unteach what the fox so well expressed,
On biting the cock's head off, - Quietness is best, -
He can talk quite as well as anyone
After his thinking is forgot and done.
He first of all told someone else's wife,
For a farthing she'd skin a flint and spoil a knife
Worth sixpence skinning it. She heard him speak:
"She had a face as long as a wet week"
Said he, telling the tale in after years.
With blue smock and with gold rings in his ears,
Sometimes he is a pedlar, not too poor
To keep his wit. This is tall Tom that bore
The logs in, and with Shakespeare in the hall
Once talked, when icicles hung by the wall.
As Herne the Hunter he has known hard times.
On sleepless nights he made up weather rhymes
Which others spoilt. And, Hob being then his name,
He kept the hog that thought the butcher came
To bring his breakfast. "You thought wrong", said Hob.
When there were kings in Kent this very Lob,
Whose sheep grew fat and he himself grew merry,
Wedded the king's daughter of Canterbury;
For he alone, unlike squire, lord, and king,
Watched a night by her without slumbering;
He kept both waking. When he was but a lad
He won a rich man's heiress, deaf, dumb, and sad,
By rousing her to laugh at him. He carried
His donkey on his back. So they were married.
And while he was a little cobbler's boy
He tricked the giant coming to destroy
Shrewsbury by flood. "And how far is it yet?"
The giant asked in passing. "I forget;
But see these shoes I've worn out on the road
and we're not there yet." He emptied out his load
Of shoes for mending. The giant let fall from his spade
The earth for damming Severn, and thus made
The Wrekin hill; and little Ercall hill
Rose where the giant scraped his boots. While still
So young, our Jack was chief of Gotham's sages.
But long before he could have been wise, ages
Earlier than this, while he grew thick and strong
And ate his bacon, or, at times, sang a song
And merely smelt it, as Jack the giant-killer
He made a name. He too ground up the miller,
The Yorkshireman who ground men's bones for flour.

`Do you believe Jack dead before his hour?
Or that his name is Walker, or Bottlesford,
Or Button, a mere clown, or squire, or lord?
The man you saw, - Lob-lie-by-the-fire, Jack Cade,
Jack Smith, Jack Moon, poor Jack of every trade,
Young Jack, or old Jack, or Jack What-d'ye-call,
Jack-in-the-hedge, or Robin-run-by-the-wall,
Robin Hood, Ragged Robin, lazy Bob,
One of the lords of No Man's Land, good Lob, -
Although he was seen dying at Waterloo,
Hastings, Agincourt, and Sedgemoor too, -
Lives yet. He never will admit he is dead
Till millers cease to grind men's bones for bread ,
Not till our weathercock crows once again
And I remove my house out of the lane
On.to the road.' With this he disappeared
In hazel and thorn tangled with old-man's-beard.
But one glimpse of his back, as there he stood,
Choosing his way, proved him of old Jack's blood,
Young Jack perhaps, and now a Wiltshireman
As he has oft been since his days began.


Any English comments?

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Re: Edward Thomas and Englishness

Post by k-j » Mon Jul 09, 2007 9:53 pm

Fascinating. Thomas (Welsh by birth) is certainly a superb poet of Englishness.

Unfortunately the English identity as expressed by Jenny Pooter and Mother Dunch's Buttocks, Hob and Lob - that distinctly rural English identity - is in an advanced state of decomposition. The language of English folklore is almost a dead language now, fodder for ethnologists. Which is not to say the identity itself is eroding - but Thomas's take on it here wouldn't speak to many English people today. That's not his fault, of course, that's England's fault.

I think all the great English poets (that is, the ones I like) let their nationality come through in their work as a whole. It's in their cadences, their humour - vague perhaps, but so is Englishness. It's obvious in Betjeman and Larkin, Ewart and Reading, but I think it's just as strong in Eliot, the adopted Englishman, with his totemic Thames. Loads of other examples, I'm sure.
fine words butter no parsnips

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Re: Edward Thomas and Englishness

Post by Charles » Wed Jul 11, 2007 9:20 am

Ah, Edward Thomas. Thanks for posting that. :)

One of my absolute favorite poems as a child, by him, encapsulates much the same Englishness, but in a smaller space.

Yes, I remember Adlestrop –
The name because one afternoon
Of heat the express-train drew up there
Unwontendly. It was late June.

The steam hissed. Someone cleared his throat.
No one left and no one came
On the bare platform. What I saw
Was Adlestrop – only the name

And willows, willow-herb, and grass,
And meadowsweet, and haycocks dry,
No whit less still and lonely fair
Than the high cloudlets in the sky.

And for that minute a blackbird sang
Close by, and round him, mistier,
Farther and farther, all the birds
Of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire.

Always gave me goosebumps that one- still does I suppose.

And yes, I agree with k-j, there is definitly an "Engligh" identity that runs through its poetry. The rural sense of "Englishness" in Edward Thomas and others is, to me, especially pleasing. It is in much of English Prose too, "The Wind in the Willows", "Tom Brown's School Days" and of course it was the inspiration for Tolkin's Shire, and I'm sure there are a great many other examples.

There is the sense that it is a way of life that's fading out, see "Going, going" by Larkin, but I think the English countryside will exist in some form or another for a good long time yet, I'm sure. Sure, taking a boat out on the thames is a bit different than it was 200 years ago, but it's still the same mother Thames.

Hmm, quite humbling this thread, thank you.

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Re: Edward Thomas and Englishness

Post by Wabznasm » Wed Jul 11, 2007 9:55 am

A really, really interesting thread David. I never knew yiou weren't English though. Perhaps you need to reiterate it more?

Anyway, I want to come back to this with a big response, but am a bit busy at the moment. I thought I'd leave a little thought though.

You say we think English is 'not' something. What about thinking other countries are 'not' something that we may find in English writing?

The most English writing I've read recently is the new 'Look We Have Coming To Dover' on Faber. In fact, I think it is one of the most English things I have ever read. And Nagra's a second generation Indian.

Will come back to this in a few days, maybe with some decent insight since I'm not living in England at the moment!

Dave

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Re: Edward Thomas and Englishness

Post by Kilravock » Wed Jul 11, 2007 11:44 am

I agree that Mr. Thomas has a great deal in common with the silver tongued angloids; but I can see in his poem philogy a heavy dependence on native western Welsh poetry . I wouldn't take him as the best representative of englishness; there are so many others's to choose form. William Barnes, although regional, is to me a better example of "Englishness". I am impressed with Icelandic poetry, in the way in which it conveys it's locality. Are there any Icelanders here?
Last edited by Kilravock on Thu Jul 12, 2007 12:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Edward Thomas and Englishness

Post by David » Wed Jul 11, 2007 9:26 pm

k-j - "Welsh by birth"! That took the wind out my sails a bit. Still basically - and essentially - English, though, I think.
And I think you're absolutely right about the current rural English identity, but if you dig pretty deep, this is the sort of thing you might eventually find.

Interesting, the poets you mention. Have you tried Geoffrey Hill? Very very English, but very very highly-educated, and very very hard to follow (I thought). And he's teaching in the States now. What does that say about England?

Charles, I remember you mentioning your fondness for "Adlestrop" before. It's a great poem, no doubt. I'm dipping in and out of the Collected Poems at the moment, so we'll see what transpires. And "The Wind in the Willows" is my dream England too, even if you and I, had we been around at the time, would more likely have been two of the quieter weasels than bosom buddies of Mole and Ratty. That's a very exclusive England, but what a wonderful place to be included in.

Actually, that raises another thought - how far from the land are we all? I'm the first generation off it in my family, but I come from a long line of peasants.

Dave - "I never knew you weren't English though. Perhaps you need to reiterate it more?" Ahem. Assuming, for the moment, that you aren't actually extracting the Michael, where are you at the moment? It may indeed give you a fresh insight. "What do they know of England, that only England know?" Who said that? Can't remember at the moment.

Kilravock - that's not your given name, surely? - I'm not seeing a lot of Welshness in the poetry at the moment, but that may come. You've mentioned Barnes before - quite an interesting enthusiasm, not at all common. Lots of Zummerzet dialect, no? I don't think we have any Icelanders here, although I probably have some Norse genes. Does that count?

Thanks all. Glad it gave you something to think about.

David

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Re: Edward Thomas and Englishness

Post by Kilravock » Thu Jul 12, 2007 12:16 pm

My given name is Dell. The name Kilravock comes from my clan's castle in Scotland. I have an addiction to Barnes. I see him as english as Her Majesty herself.

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Re: Edward Thomas and Englishness

Post by David » Thu Jul 12, 2007 7:47 pm

Her Maj is kinda German, actually.

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Re: Edward Thomas and Englishness

Post by Kilravock » Fri Jul 13, 2007 1:27 pm

Yeah, The House was from Hanover. And if no one is going to get my jokes I am going to quit telling them.

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Re: Edward Thomas and Englishness

Post by cameron » Sat Jul 14, 2007 4:00 pm

I don't know if any of you saw it but there was a fascinating programme recently about the genetic make up of the English. One of the people featured was your typical BNP fuckwit who believed that he and his family were all dyed-in-the-wool English. However, when his genetic profile came back from the lab it showed that he was predominantly Eastern European and Middle Eastern. You should have seen his face!

Genetically speaking, we're all African originally anyway. However, as an English African I feel that I belong to a higher class than you. Ha, ha.

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The bestial visor, bent in
By the blows of what happened to happen."

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Re: Edward Thomas and Englishness

Post by k-j » Mon Jul 16, 2007 7:05 pm

Or as Mike Skinner (aka The Streets) says "I'm 45th generation Roman".
fine words butter no parsnips

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Re: Edward Thomas and Englishness

Post by tomwein880 » Thu Aug 02, 2007 2:55 pm

This is a fascinating debate, and not just in terms of the poetry; naturally whenever you look for a poet who represents englishness, you are then making assumptions about what englishness actually is, which is of course a debate our (scottish) PM is very keen to initiate on a national scale. I think though that we are concentrating a little too hard on a lost Arcadia at the expense of other areas of England.

My own family history has my paternal family living in London ever since my great-great grandparents arrived on the boat, at the turn of the last century. As for my maternal history, I think my great grandfather owned a cow at one point, but even they moved to the town (Colchester) before my grandmother had left home. Im not certain, but I think this is relatively typical; I dont think we have all that much connection with the land anymore.

I live in central London during term-time, and the Home Counties in the holidays, so I get a perspective on both halves of england, and I would say that if you can describe America as a country made up of small towns, then we are probably now a country made up of small cities. I would suggest that the rural village, with its fields, 1 shop, manor house and church is a picture post-card version of england, only suitable for the tourists. The beating heart of england for me is all the mid-sized industrial cities. Places like Birmingham, Manchester, Sheffield, Newcastle and so on. Of course, if I am right about that, then given the economic situation in these places, that probably makes Larkin the true voice of modern englishness - decay, misery and mourning for lost greatness.

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Re: Edward Thomas and Englishness

Post by David » Sun Sep 23, 2007 9:23 am

Although we seem to have lost Tom along the way somewhere, which I think is a pity (are you out there, Tom?), he makes some good points in that last post.

However, without addressing those points, and in case anyone else is still interested (and I am, for one), here's something I read this morning that seems to be part of the quintessence of the English thing - it's ET (no, not that one), of course:

The Manor Farm

The rock-like mud unfroze a little and rills
Ran and sparkled down each side of the road
Under the catkins wagging in the hedge.
But earth would have her sleep out, spite of the sun;
Nor did I value that thin gliding beam
More than a pretty February thing
Till I came down to the old Manor Farm,
And church and yew-tree opposite, in age
Its equals and in size. The church and yew
And farmhouse slept slept in a Sunday silentness.
The air raised not a straw. The steep farm roof,
With tiles duskily glowing, entertained
The mid-day sun; and up and down the roof
White pigeons nestled. There was no sound but one.
Three cart-horses were looking over a gate
Drowsily through their forelocks, swishing their tails
Against a fly, a solitary fly.

The Winter's cheek flushed as if he had drained
Spring, Summer, and Autumn at a draught
And smiled quietly. But 'twas not Winter—
Rather a season of bliss unchangeable
Awakened from farm and church where it had lain
Safe under tile and thatch for ages since
This England, Old already, was called Merry.

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Re: Edward Thomas and Englishness

Post by Wabznasm » Sun Sep 23, 2007 11:03 am

Yes, that was very English. Even without the last line it still had that quality.

Anyway, I'm glad you've rejuvenated this thread, because it has been on my mind for ages.

I like the fact that everyone here has been trying to take Englishness apart, and for the most I reckon people are right. As for Englishness now, I think Tom is spot on: The beating heart of england for me is all the mid-sized industrial cities. Places like Birmingham, Manchester, Sheffield, Newcastle and so on.. Taking it back to poetry, I can think of loads of very English poets who focus on the middle/lower (if those categories exist) class lives of people in the bigger cities - I recently finished a pretty decent (it wasn't brilliant) collection by a bloke called Peter Sansom, who concentrated on Sheffield; the entire collection felt English.

But I've been thinking about the point of Englishness recently. I suppose you could say it was started by a course I'm currently taking, Britain and Europe. It's mainly political, but a fascinating (and outside) insight into just how xenophobic, scared and isolated the country is. Been reading loads of quotes from the 60s by famous critics and writers (Auden, Amis, AJP Taylor, etc) about how England should remain England because of its 'spiritual' sensibility that the rest of mainland Europe lacks, bla bla bla. SO I just got the impression they were a bunch of fidgety, stoic bores. Fascinating insight into the war too, and how we seem to be one of the only countries that glorifies WW2 and almost treats it as a good thing because of what it did for us then and what it does for us now. But I'm going off on one...

What I want to say with that is this: why is Englishness so important? There was a great comment by KJ a while back, who said that all of the greats show their nationality. I pretty much agree with him. But it has still left me questioning why I think that is necessary. What is it that makes us want a writer to show his/her Englishness? I keep on thinking about it, and coming up with conclusions like 'I want to keep an English voice because...' and simply stop there. Any thoughts?

Incidentally, thanks to this thread I've been making all of my stuff a bit more English, so it has made an impact.

Interesting stuff
Dave

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Re: Edward Thomas and Englishness

Post by David » Sun Sep 23, 2007 11:13 am

Hey Dave, quick interim response, plucked from a brief respite from gardening duties (Me and my captain don't agree ...)

When I moved to the Netherlands, I'd just spent two years feeling (and being made to feel) pretty provincial in this great metropolis. Then, after a while in NL, the whole damn UK (including London) started to look pretty provincial to me.

I also remember flying back into Heathrow, and getting the Tube into the city, and thinking what little pasty-faced individuals I was sharing the train with. These guys really need to improve their diet and get out more, I thought.

TTFN

David

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Re: Edward Thomas and Englishness

Post by Charles » Sun Sep 30, 2007 1:08 pm

Hmm,
"A crowd flowed over London Bridge, so many,
I had not though death had undone so many.
"?


Yes, food for thought Wab, certainly. What is nationality, and is it important? I have no ready answers, but I have just finished reading "Brave New World", I'm reminded of the Savage's exile from his tribe on account of his colour - and then the utter barreness of the utopia. I guess nationality could fall into the catagory of what the World Controllers describes as "bunk" - a genuinly harmful thing that we need to be protected from. But then I think nationality can be more inclusive than one might think, look at Steven Fry, we think of him as typically English but he's from a family of Hungarian Jews. In fact England is like that, when you think about it, we're a great big jumble of Norman, Viking, Saxon, Welsh, Scot... I'm forgetting you already covered that point in this thread. "I'm a 45th generation Roman" indeed... :)

But of course, whenever there was a new wave of immigrants there was usually unrest and violence in its wake... Brave New World is easily the most thought provoking book I've read in a long time...

As for me, I'm with the new PM, nationality is good. All of them, in fact. :lol: Of course, British is by far the most superior, but that's just my conditioning... :P

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Re: Edward Thomas and Englishness

Post by Merlin » Thu Oct 18, 2007 10:42 pm

Interesting thread – will add something quickly but will probably return to the thread later more thoughts…

I think the acid test in discovering what Englishness is to ask a foreigner what he/she thinks Englishness is… – and not necessarily a fellow European, in fact preferably not…

One point is that whatever Englishness is or was changes over time, for sure…and one major driving force is politics (in my opinion)..for instance , I think the whole island was at one time perceived (foreign perception) to be England…then Britishness came into the equation (Great Britain), and now as United Kingdom it takes a further twist….I think all these things change what Englishness is or was….

I think generally speaking, Englishness whatever it was has not changed its identity but has been diluted, as it were….does this make sense?…coz I am rambling….

One final ramble, I also think that a national identity is not only fostered internally, but has major external factors, too…….take the Irish for instance……I think the Irish Diaspora has helped define what Irish is all over the world….

By the way I am neither English nor Irish…… :mrgreen:

Thanks for the thread….something to return to…for sure…

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Re: Edward Thomas and Englishness

Post by David » Fri Oct 19, 2007 6:26 am

Merlin wrote: By the way I am neither English nor Irish…… :mrgreen:
You don't say! I had you pegged as Welsh from the start. Am I right?

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Re: Edward Thomas and Englishness

Post by Merlin » Fri Oct 19, 2007 9:41 am

David wrote:
Merlin wrote: By the way I am neither English nor Irish…… :mrgreen:
You don't say! I had you pegged as Welsh from the start. Am I right?
:lol: :lol: :lol: As sure as eggs are eggs, Dave...

Living in Brazil :twisted: :mrgreen:

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Re: Edward Thomas and Englishness

Post by Lexilogio » Fri Oct 19, 2007 7:30 pm

I've always thought that the general notion of Englishness, was really about the Home Counties, and not England as an entirety - there have been poems celebrating corners of England, like this one, by Tony Harrison

Turns

I thought it made me look more 'working class'
(as if a bit of chequered cloth could bridge that gap!)
I did a turn in it before the glass.
My mother said: It suits you, your dad's cap.
(She preferred me to wear suits and part my hair:
You're every bit as good as that lot are!)

All the pension queue came out to stare.
Dad was sprawled beside the postbox (still VR) ,
his cap turned inside up beside his head,
smudged H A H in purple Indian ink
and Brylcreem slicks displayed so folks migh think
he wanted charity for dropping dead.

He never begged. For nowt! Death's reticence
crowns his life, and me, I'm opening my trap
to busk the class that broke him for the pence
that splash like brackish tears into our cap.
Lexi

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Re: Edward Thomas and Englishness

Post by David » Fri Oct 19, 2007 7:42 pm

Nice one, Lexi. I don't know much Tony Harrison, and I need to know more. I found a great one a while back called "Them and uz", but it doesn't seem to be on the web at all.

I certainly don't think of "the Home Counties" as the model of Englishness, more as some dreadful tea-cosy escape from Englishness, which is in itself unforgivably lazy thinking.

Still ... Newcastle, Liverpool, Cornwall, Grimsby (Grimsby!) - there's some real Englishness for you. Although, truth be told, Edward Thomas (Welshness granted) was pretty much at home in the Home Counties.

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Re: Edward Thomas and Englishness

Post by Merlin » Fri Oct 19, 2007 7:55 pm

David - tony harrison - poetry quartets - including them and uz
http://www.britishcouncil.org/arts-lite ... rrison.htm

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Re: Edward Thomas and Englishness

Post by David » Fri Oct 19, 2007 7:57 pm

Ace! Thanks merl. Must dash, off to pub now. What time is it in Recife? Pub time? Probably not yet.

Cheers

David

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Re: Edward Thomas and Englishness

Post by Merlin » Fri Oct 19, 2007 8:34 pm

4 hours behind you – for now! :mrgreen:

Here is an excellent article:

http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.h ... A961948260

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Re: Edward Thomas and Englishness

Post by David » Sat Oct 20, 2007 10:33 am

Merl, that is a very good article, although my eyes glazed over a bit in the John Fuller section.

I suppose we should acknowledge Geoffrey Hill. I find his poems hard going, although I can see how good his command of English is, but he is definitely into the old Englishness. This is the opening section of his Mercian Hymns, which seems to be about his growing up as a preternaturally bright child in an ordinary midlands unacademic family, but with lots of Mercian (Offa etc.) references spooned lovingly over the top. I think this (and the whole of the sequence) is really good ...

King of the perennial holly-groves, the riven sandstone: overlord of the
M5: architect of the historic rampart and ditch, the citadel at
Tamworth, the summer hermitage in Holy Cross: guardian of the Welsh
Bridge and the Iron Bridge: contractor to the desirable new estates:
saltmaster: money-changer: commissioner for oaths: martyrologist: the
friend of Charlemagne.

'I liked that,' said Offa, 'sing it again.'

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