This will be my last blog for a week or so as I'm camping - back when I have established a link somewhere in France.
2. Robert Frost and Edward Thomas settings - Ryton and around.
Letter from Robert Frost, December 1917.
The Frosts moved from Little Iddens to a cottage near Ryton called The Gallows - it no longer exists. Half of it was thatched, something Elinor Frost had always wanted. Frost's moodiness was intense there, the wind in the elm trees at The Gallows troubled him and they had a difficult decision to make - whether to return to America.
There were quarrels, reflected in the poem 'The Thatch.' Robert said he sometimes felt the trees had more to say than he had. But the decision to go home and the restless mood led to this:
'The Sound of Trees':
I wonder about the trees.
Why do we wish to bear
Forever the noise of these
More than another noise
So close to our dwelling place?
We suffer them by the day
Till we lose all measure of pace,
And fixity in our joys,
And acquire a listening air.
They are that that talks of going
But never gets away;
And that talks no less for knowing,
As it grows wiser and older,
That now it means to stay.
My feet tug at the floor
And my head sways to my shoulder
Sometimes when I watch trees sway,
From the window or the door.
I shall set forth for somewhere,
I shall make the reckless choice
Some day when they are in voice
And tossing so as to scare
The white clouds over them on.
I shall have less to say,
But I shall be gone. RF. (Out of copyright- I do like that poem.)
Edward visited in November and it was then, as they walked in Lord Beauchamp's woods, that they were accused by a belligerent gun-wielding gamekeeper of trespassing. Robert reacted angrily while Edward was for backing off and trying to calm the situation; Robert even insisted on challenging the man in his own cottage at which the gamekeeper pointed his gun at Edward. (Ruins of the cottage are still visible at the edge of the wood - again I'm so sad to say I have lost irretrievably the photos I took there as well as the Ledbury ones but you can see a drawing on the map above.)
So much has been made of the incident since, even a claim that this was the over-whelming reason why Edward, having been seen as cowardly by Robert, volunteered and was ultimately killed.
Edward did refer to the matter occasionally but it's my belief that it was a very small element in his volunteering. His real motive was sheer patriotism.
Ryton to Redmarley path
|The Beauchamp Arms, Dymock|
In the novel, and in real life, Edward and Robert drank local cider here - Robert was not a great drinker, but Edward liked to find an inn and drink ale or cider. It is a fascinating historic pub and that rare thing, community owned. Here in the words of the Friends of the Beauchamp Arms:
The Beauchamp Arms is what you expect of a classic, English, village pub. There is a fireplace in the bar, polished furniture, brasses, and other ornaments: all adding to the homely welcome you will receive. The pub always has a good selection of real ales and other drinks. Pub food is served in the bar and the restaurant at lunch-time and in the evening.
Dymock is famous for its wild daffodils. There are many walks in the area: one starts from St Mary's church and ends at the Beauchamp Arms ( see here for directions).
Dymock is well-kown for the Dymock Poets (Rupert Brooke, Edward Thomas, Wilfred Gibson, Lascelles Abercrombie, Robert Frost, and John Drinkwater) who lived in Dymock during the First World War.
The Beauchamp Arms is said to date from the late 16th century, and was a stop on the coach road from Ledbury to Newent and Gloucester.
The Beauchamp Arms is owned by the community; it was bought by the Parish Council in 1997. The pub is at the focal point of the village being adjacent to the Parish Hall, St Mary's church, and the village green (Wintours Green). The pub is actively supported by the Friends of the Beauchamp Arms (aka FoBA).
I have Robert speculating about the Lord Beaufort of the Beauchamp Arms, and the landowning aristocracy and class divisions which displeased him so much. In the event it was the same Lord Beauchamp who got him out of trouble after the gamekeeper episode in Ryton Firs.
|William Rothenstein - The artist's farmhouse, Gloucestershire.|
On their way home from Dymock an epiphany, perhaps the real cause of Edward enlisting, took place. Here is an extract:
'The road stretched pale and empty when they did start out for home in the dusk. A low pink-washed farmhouse crouching at the foot of a great elm tree gleamed palely, lamplight yellow in one window. Edward stood looking, then spoke quietly.
Edward wrote about this moment in his journal article, This England, the more subjective of three accounts of the mood of people as the war got underway. Perhaps the poem closest to it in mood is this:
Against the North wind; tired, yet so that rest
Had seemed the sweetest thing under a roof.
All of the night was quite barred out except
An owl’s cry, a most melancholy cry
But one telling me plain what I escaped
And others could not, that night, as in I went.
Speaking for all who lay under the stars,
Soldiers and poor, unable to rejoice.