Edward Thomas Fellowship Birthday Walk at Steep.On the 3rd of March the annual walk at Steep marking Edward Thomas birthday went well. It began in near freezing temperatures but at about 2pm the sun shone, The familiar format is a longish morning walk and a shorter afternoon one, interspersed with readings.
Exceptionally, today we were joined by a Radio 4 reporter and sound engineer who recorded people on the walk, including me. There will be five broadcasts over Easter - whether all Edward Thomas, or walking groups, or South Downs, I'm afraid I'm not sure, but I do know that Robert MacFarlane will be reading Thomas's poems, so it should be excellent.
What was very good for me was to meet face to face two people I've known of and wanted to meet. One was Fran Howard-Brown, a wise maternity nurse/adviser who is also a regular Edward Thomas correspondent on dovegreyreaderscribbles to which I've often referred.
And also Lucy Milner, Edward's great-granddaughter, Merfyn's grandaughter, daughter of Edward Cawston Thomas, now the sole young and female member of the Edward Thomas Fellowship Committee
In my novel I transposed that scene to Leddington but drew on the poem substantially:
Next was The Chalk Pit, a rather Frosty, dialogue-based poem:
Round what was one a chalk pit: now it is
By accident an amphitheatre.
Some ash trees standing ankle-deep in brier
And bramble act the parts, and neither speak
Nor stir.' 'But see: they have fallen, every one,
And briar and bramble have grown over them.'
'That is the place. As usual no one is here.
Hardly can I imagine the drop of the axe,
And the smack that is like an echo, sounding here.'
'I do not understand.' 'Why, what I mean is
That I have seen the place two or three times
At most, and that its emptiness and silence
And stillness haunt me, as if just before
It was not empty, silent, still, but full
Of life of some kind, perhaps tragical.
Has anything unusual happened here?'
And so we continued. March the 3rd, the poem I printed a week ago, was read at the memorial stone.
|The Thomas's first Steep cottage, Berryfield, on the right|
In the new house; and the wind
Began to moan.
Old at once was the house,
And I was old;
My ears were teased with the dread
Of what was foretold,
Nights of storm, days of mist, without end;
Sad days when the sun
Shone in vain: old griefs and griefs
Not yet begun.
All was foretold me; naught
Could I foresee;
But I learnt how the wind would sound
After these things should be