Monday, January 27, 2014

Edward Thomas and Helen - home in Steep.

Writing about Steep, a village near Petersfield, Hampshire,  is quite emotional for me. I have been there many times, most often with the  Edward Thomas Fellowship, sometimes just with Marc.

It seems to me the place where Edward Thomas's spirit  is present most strongly. Steep and the countryside and villages around are reflected in so many of the poems - I could have chosen perhaps any one of half his poems today, and will stay with  Steep and the area around for a while.

Yew Tree Cottage, Steep.

During most of  the period of the novel the Thomases lived in this fairly unprepossessing semi-detached house in Steep. They had lived in  much grander houses,  like this attractive chalk house, Berryfields,
and for over three years in the Arts and Crafts ' Red House', Wick Green, which is at the top of the hillside behind Yew Tree.
The Wick Green house
This is the house that features in the poem, ' Wind and Mist'. During their most difficult year, 1913, they moved from it because the rent was too much, the wind unpleasant and to be near to Bedales school.
Helen made a home out of the rather uninspiring Yew Tree Cottage, contrasting it with Wick Green. Here is an extract from the novel, based of course on her own 'Under Storm's Wing':
'Yew Tree Cottage was quite different, just a newly-built semi-detached workman’s cottage in Steep, without much character and less charm, until we made it home. Its good feature was that it was set back from the road between the other pairs, peeping out down the long path between them like a shy child hiding behind its parents’ legs. We had gardens on three sides and at the back of the house was the openness of a meadow and the hill with its beech hangers.
The six cottages had no bathrooms, yet the rent was more than a working villager would be prepared to pay. It was cheaper than Wick Green, though, and better for the children, because Bedales was close by and they could join in more school activities. When we moved in, I’d hoped for so much. I always did when we moved house, hoping above all that Edward would be happier.
He kept on his Wick Green study for a rent of only a shilling a week. It was separate from the house, a long low building called the Bee House, perched at the steepest point of the hanger on Cockshott Lane with a grand view down the hill towards Steep. So if I stood in our garden and waved a linen-cloth Edward could see me when the trees were bare. Or I would walk up to the start of the hanger and call ‘Coo-ee’ for him to come for his lunch.
Up in the study he had a fire, a desk and chair and his books and papers. He would have breakfast and then set off up the hill, coming home at noon. Then he would work in the garden, or walk until tea-time Sometimes he went up to his study again until supper at half-past eight, or would read through at home what he’d been writing.
Yew Tree cottage pleased me, even though it was so small, and I worked to make it a real home. The kitchen was simply a corner in the living room; there was a tiny back room and three small bedrooms – that was all. We bathed in a tin bath in front of the big fireplace. But I loved the built-in dresser in the kitchen, and my solid kitchen table, which had moved from one home to another with us. Edwy had given me a decorated cottage tea-set to hang on the dresser, white earthenware, with a wreath of flowers and leaves in red, blue and green.
An ancient yew tree stood in the garden, leaning over the gate. The six cottages were built on the plot of an old house that had been demolished. The garden, worked for centuries, was fine and fertile once we had cleared the building rubble, the soil a beautiful rich brown crumb, not white and stony and dry as it was up at Wick Green.
Edward and I gardened together, mostly growing vegetables. He found so much satisfaction in digging and seed-sowing. We wasted nothing, preserving our vegetables and fruits as if our lives depended on it. But we had some flowers for their beauty and climbing plants that we brought home from the wild to clamber up the straggly hedges.
By the front door the grey-green bush of Old Man grew, and the other herbs we brought from cuttings whenever we moved house, lavender and rosemary. We hid the harsh pebble-dash walls with trained fruit.
Edward built a porch around the front door and it was soon covered in jasmine. It had a seat on either side where we could sit talking in the evenings, listening for the calls of our own blackbird and thrush.'
Of course this rather sentimental picture doesn't tell the whole story of their time there - lack of money and once war was underway, lack of work. Worries about Merfyn's future, Edward's indecision, depression and ill-temper - but it is there that most of the poetry was written, before and to some extent after he enlisted, and I believe it was the nearest thing to a home that he found.

Evening at Steep, James Bolivar Manson.   (copyright ASK/ART) Probably 1914



In January 1915 Edward had an accident running  from his study down the hill to Yew Tree, a bad sprain that left  him barely able to walk for several weeks, very irritable but also very productive - the marvellous 'Beauty' written then.
 The Shoulder of Mutton Hill is very steep indeed - it's quite difficult to convey how steep but this picture from the top gives a sense of it perhaps:
 Shoulder of Mutton Hill, Steep.
This is the back of the Memorial Stone half-way down the hill - we'll see the plaque on the front another day.

Poem : The Wick Green house poem - part of it. The first part is even more in the 'Frosty', dialogue mode. As Edna Longley says, it is a poem of retrospection and introspection.

Wind and Mist

.... Doubtless the house was not to blame,
But the eye watching from those windows saw,
Many a day, day after day, mist--mist
Like chaos surging back--and felt itself
Alone in all the world, marooned alone.
We lived in clouds, on a cliff's edge almost
(You see), and if clouds went, the visible earth
Lay too far off beneath and like a cloud.
I did not know it was the earth I loved
Until I tried to live there in the clouds
And the earth turned to cloud." "You had a garden
Of flint and clay, too." "True; that was real enough.
The flint was the one crop that never failed.
The clay first broke my heart, and then my back;
And the back heals not. There were other things
Real, too. In that room at the gable a child
Was born while the wind chilled a summer dawn:
Never looked grey mind on a greyer one
Than when the child's cry broke above the groans."
"I hope they were both spared." "They were. Oh yes.
But flint and clay and childbirth were too real
For this cloud-castle. I had forgot the wind.
Pray do not let me get on to the wind.
You would not understand about the wind.
It is my subject, and compared with me
Those who have always lived on the firm ground
Are quite unreal in this matter of the wind.
There were whole days and nights when the wind and I
Between us shared the world, and the wind ruled
And I obeyed it and forgot the mist.
My past and the past of the world were in the wind.
Now you may say that though you understand
And feel for me, and so on, you yourself
Would find it different. You are all like that
If once you stand here free from wind and mist:
I might as well be talking to wind and mist.
You would believe the house-agent's young man
Who gives no heed to anything I say.
Good morning. But one word. I want to admit
That I would try the house once more, if I could;
As I should like to try being young again."

'Adlestrop' on BBC  Radio 4 today,  30th January - Catch-up if you missed it.  Ian, Morton, Secretary of the Edward Thomas Fellowship, is talking.
It will be  the Centenary on June 24th 2014 of the day that express train stopped unwontedly at Adlestrop.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

The novel's settings:Robert  Frost and Edward Thomas in Gloucestershire

Ryton and Dymock                                                                

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 iretrievably the photos I took there as well as the Ledbury ones.)
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

More  Dymock

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.

‘When we were here in June they’d almost finished hay-making, do you remember? The scent of it on the road. The wagon nearly fully laden, standing in the shade of that yew, and the men taking a rest, leaning on their rakes; they and the horses utterly silent and still. It was as if they’d been there since the beginning of time and would be always the same, older than everything, even older than the farmhouse. Utterly timeless. Immortal.’

‘You’re full of good memories today, Edward.’

‘ I know I’ll never forget this place, this summer. The way the sun has shone on us, on our walks and talks. It’s made some ideas clearer to me, and I believe that’s true for you too. You have a great gift for talking about poetry as well as for writing it, Robert. That’s why I think you should write that book. And as for me, you’ve given me a sense of something – of possibilities ¾ that I haven’t had before. Ambition even.’

‘That’s what I want to hear. Ambition is good – I have it aplenty myself and it beats me how a man can live without it. Only I tell you again, the place to be ambitious is in America. Progress and adventure, not always looking back. That's why I’m pretty near ready to go home and I’m damned if you’re not going to come with me!’

‘We’ll see. Robert, you know how I waver. I do want to, believe me, but the truth is I have to depend on uncertain things. But look, it’s getting late, we’d better hurry on.’

‘No hurry, it’s great to walk in the dark. All the time there is,’ Robert drawled.

This is such a human landscape, Edward thought; every quarter of a mile or so another cottage or farmhouse. And always the high elms and the Lombardy poplars, reaching up into the darkening sky and sheltering each house. They passed a cottage in the dusk, seeing a faint light from the small square window and a thin line of blue smoke against the leaves of its sheltering elms. No-one could see that cottage and not long for his own home, or dream that this cottage was his home, he thought.

The silver sliver of a new moon rose near the horizon.

 Suddenly Edward stopped. He thought of France, of the soldiers there. He wondered how many of them would be seeing the same moon – or would they be too blinded to notice it? Blinded by smoke, excitement, pain, or terror? Vividly he pictured them, their eyes briefly glancing at the same moon that he was seeing from a safe and silent lane.

His mind was flooded with a new and overwhelming emotion. He stood still, gazing at the moon, while Robert walked ahead.  Something essential was missing, he realised, in all his love and admiration for English landscapes, these cottages, farms and trees, the country life. It seemed to him that he loved England in a foolish superficial way, only in terms of charm and aesthetics. As though he were just a detached observer. It was as if he hadn’t acknowledged it as his country.

To acknowledge it, perhaps – did not that mean he should be willing to die for his country? To do something, at least.

 ‘What’s halting you, Ed?’ Robert called. Edward didn’t hear him.

Would something have to be done, he thought, before he even had the right to look again with appreciation and composure at English landscape? At the elms and poplars around the houses, at the white campion flowers in the verges each side of the lane, the verges known as ‘No Man’s Garden’.

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:

The Owl

      Downhill I came, hungry, and yet not starved;
Cold, yet had heat within me that was proof
Against the North wind; tired, yet so that rest
Had seemed the sweetest thing under a roof.

     Then at the inn I had food, fire, and rest,
Knowing how hungry, cold, and tired was I.
All of the night was quite barred out except
An owl’s cry, a most melancholy cry

     Shaken out long and clear upon the hill,
No merry note, nor cause of merriment,
But one telling me plain what I escaped
And others could not, that night, as in I went.

     And salted was my food, and my repose,
Salted and sobered, too, by the bird’s voice
Speaking for all who lay under the stars,
Soldiers and poor, unable to rejoice.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Prose and place - the novel's four settings.

1. Leddington and Dymock, in summer and autumn.

Maps, so important to Edward throughout his life and indeed right through his military training to his death in France. Place was all-important too, and there is a great revival of interest and study in the cultural geography and indeed 'psychogeography' of his work.
My purpose in visiting: observing, absorbing and imagining the places he knew and trying to recreate them in the reader's mind.

Part One of A Conscious Englishman is set in Leddington(now spelt Leadington), near Ledbury, with excursions to Dymock, May Hill near Gloucester and the Malvern Hills. I paid four visits to the area, two of them with Friends of The Dymock poets, two separately. It is farming or market gardening country with orchards and copses still surviving alongside some over-large arable fields with the most startling red soil. In Dymock especially, half-timbered white-rendered   houses stand, while most cottages and farm-houses are of mellowed brick clearly reflecting the red-rust of the area's clay.

The Thomas family rented a room in a farm called Oldfields which still exists but is greatly altered and enlarged. I'm so sorry to say I did photograph it years ago but all those photos are lost- probably I hadn't even heard of blogs then. But there is a good picture available of the Frosts' rented cottage, Little Iddens. I walked the few hundred yards across a field between the two houses several times, thinking of how often the two families, and especially Edward and Robert, walked that way. Eleanor Farjeon stayed for a few days at a farm called Glyn Iddens, just across the lane.

Dymock daffodils
Dymock daffodils
The area between May Hill and the Malvern Hills is most famous for its wild daffodils, which once grew everywhere in the meadows and woods. There are still many places where wild daffodils can be seen in late March and early April and Dymock is one 

There are two marked footpaths, the Poet's Paths, which start at the church, Dymock.

 The first heads east of Dymock in an 8-mile figure of eight that passes Abercrombie’s cottage,the Gallows, which features in the autumn chapters as the Frosts had moved there. The second is north of Dymock in a figure of eight that passes near Frost’s, Thomas’s and Gibson’s cottages.

St Mary's Dymock. The lych gate allows Edward and Robert a place to rest:
"They went on into Dymock. Robert admired the half-timbered houses, very like Little Iddens, lining
 the street. Beauchamp Green, with its row of lime trees leading up from the road to the lych gate, invited them to rest. They sat for a while under the silvered oak of the lych, looking down the valley. ‘You should have seen it  early last April,’ Robert said. ‘A torrent of little yellow daffodils tumbling down to the brook. Beautiful.’  

Two gypsies came up to them, a young woman smoking a clay pipe, with a baby in her brown shawl, and a thin young man with a concertina. The woman asked for money for the baby, but they’d scarcely any money and what they had was for cider at the Beauchamp Arms. Seeing Edward with his pipe she asked if he could spare half a pipe of tobacco. He looked long at her and smiled. Her brown fingers dipped delicately into the leather pouch he held out to her as she gazed back at him. Then she laughed, waved and went away, gracefully swaying across the green with the baby on her hip. "

The Malverns
British Camp in the Malvern Hills - Edward and Robert took a phenomenal walk from Leddington to this hill and as they were returning saw the moon effect that Robert wrote of in 'Iris by Night' -  his 'Elected Friends' poem.

 May Hill

May Hill

Only one scene is actually set on May Hill - it serves symbolically as a reminder to Edward and Robert of that summer together, and of their hopes . It could be seen from Little Iddens and both Elinor and Robert referred to it in their letters home, while Edward began to write his marvellous 'Words' just before he enlisted in the Artists' Rifles.
Several pictures are from Friends of the Dymock Poets' website.
Marc Thompson


Out of us all
That make rhymes
Will you choose
Sometimes -
As the winds use
A crack in a wall
Or a drain,
Their joy or their pain
To whistle through -
Choose me,
You English words?

I know you:
You are light as dreams,
Tough as oak,
Precious as gold,
As poppies and corn,
Or an old cloak:
Sweet as our birds
To the ear,
As the burnet rose
In the heat
Of Midsummer:
Strange as the races
Of dead and unborn:
Strange and sweet
And familiar,
To the eye,
As the dearest faces
That a man knows,
And as lost homes are:
But though older far
Than oldest yew, -
As our hills are, old, -
Worn new
Again and again:
Young as our streams
After rain:
And as dear
As the earth which you prove
That we love.

Make me content
With some sweetness
From Wales
Whose nightingales
Have no wings, -
From Wiltshire and Kent
And Herefordshire, -
And the villages there, -
From the names, and the things
No less.
Let me sometimes dance
With you,
Or climb
Or stand perchance
In ecstasy,
Fixed and free
In a rhyme,
As poets do.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Edward Thomas  and Three Women, Edna, Eleanor and Helen.

Eleanor Farjeon

'Morning has broken Like the first morning...'

Eleanor's best known work is the hymn 'Morning Has Broken' but I wonder how many people are aware that she was its author. It was written in 1931, is entitled 'Morning Song for the first day of Spring' and is sung to an old Scottish tune.
 I can never remember not knowing it and I have in fact known of Eleanor since the age of eleven: at my school, Stafford Girls High School (also C-A Duffy's as I say at every opportunity) we had elocution lessons with a flamboyant speech and drama teacher, Eleanora Fenn. Mrs Fenn knew Eleanor and dropped her name all the time. We had to learn a poem a week; often they were Eleanor's and very enjoyable and memorable they were.

Eleanor's Story
Eleanor Farjeon was born in London on 13 February 1881. Her family was literary, father a popular novelist, two brothers became writers and another a composer. "Nellie", was a small timid child, who had poor eyesight and suffered from ill-health throughout her childhood. She was shy and not a pretty child as she wore thick glasses - as a result she was sensitive and empathic towards children, qualities which show in her writing for them.
She was educated at home, spending much of her time in the attic, surrounded by books. Her father encouraged her writing from the age of five. She describes her family and her childhood in the autobiographical, A Nursery in the Nineties (1935).
She lived much of her life among the literary and theatrical circles of London.
A holiday in France in 1907 was to inspire her to create a story of a troubadour, later refashioned as the wandering minstrel of her most famous book, Martin Pippin in the Apple Orchard. Among her earliest publications is a volume of poems called Pan Worship, published in 1908, and Nursery Rhymes of London Town from 1916, one of the manuscripts she sent to Edward for comment.
  From A Conscious Englishman:
'When she’d met Edward almost two years before, she was overwhelmed by him. So beautiful - his face, and his voice. And his mind, she felt sure.

 ‘He was so kind to me,’ she’d said to her brother. ‘He asked to see some of my writing. Do you think he meant it?’

‘I’m sure Edward doesn’t say anything unless he means it.’

       So she wrote him a friendly note, rather a witty one, and he replied in the same vein. After that they wrote and met often. She knew that he was habitually melancholic – after all, their circle of friends thought of him as ‘The Patient’ by reputation before they knew him. They’d been quite cross at the way this mysterious ‘patient’ absorbed the time of their doctor friend, Godwin Baynes.

         She fell in love and she continued to love him when that first ‘in love’ phase passed. He knew, of course, but she sensed that she must never speak about her love for him. Bertie and a few close friends knew – and her mother, who was dismayed and disapproving.

On the first occasion that she went to visit the Thomases at Steep, Helen realised it at once. Seeing that Eleanor loved her husband, her response, her strategy perhaps, was to make sure that she became Eleanor’s loving friend too.'


During World War I, the family spent time in Flansham in Sussex where the landscape, villages and local traditions were to have a profound effect upon her later writing.  It was in Sussex that the Martin Pippin stories were eventually to be located and in the novel I have her visit Edward's printer near Flansham.


Eleanor aged 21


At only eighteen Eleanor wrote the libretto  Floretta, to music by her brother Harry. She also collaborated with her youngest brother, Bertie, Edward's friend, a  Shakespearian scholar and dramatic critic. Their later productions include Kings and Queens (1932), The Two Bouquets (1938), An Elephant in Arcady (1939), and The Glass Slipper (1944).
Eleanor had a wide range of friends with great literary talents including D. H. Lawrence, Walter de la Mare and of course Edward Thomas. After Thomas's death in April 1917 she remained close to his wife, Helen. She later published much of their correspondence, and gave her account of their relationship in Edward Thomas: The Last Four Years  in 1958. On holiday in Norfolk
                                                 with her brother Bertie, Clifford Bax and Edward.


After Edward

After World War I Eleanor earned a living as a poet, journalist and broadcaster.  Her topical work for the Labour-supporting paper The Herald, Reynolds News and New Leader was the perhaps the most accomplished of any socialist poet of the 1920s and 30s.( I'm proud to say that my parents took the Herald.)
 Eleanor never married, but had a thirty-year friendship with George Earle, an English teacher. After his death in 1949, she had a long friendship with the actor Denys Blakelock who wrote of it in the book, Eleanor, Portrait of a Farjeon (1966).
During the 1950s she won three major literary awards: the annual Carnegie Medal for British children's books;[ the inaugural, international Hans Christian Andersen Award for career contribution to children's literature; and the Regina Medal of the American Catholic Library Association. (An agnostic from childhood, in her later years she converted to Catholicism.)
She died in Hampstead, London on 5 June 1965 and  is buried in the churchyard of St John-at-Hampstead.
The Children's Book Circle, a society of publishers, present the Eleanor Farjeon Award annually in her memory.


Eleanor loved Christmas - her family Christmases had been lavish Dickensian - style events with entertainments by their writer father and the four children - Eleanor wrote a version of Snow White when she was seven for the family to perform. It had a very succint opening -

The Queen, embroidering, pricks her finger.
QUEEN: I wish I had a little dauter with her skin as white as snow her lips and cheaks as red  as blod and her hair and eyes as black as my en-broadeere frame.

QUEEN dies. Enter KING.

KING: She's dead. I must marry agayne.

1927 - Cyder Press facsimile

She was always very generous with her  presents to the Thomas family. Here is Edward's poignant 'thank you' note, of 27th December 1916:
My dear Eleanor, I am bloated with your presents. But that is not their fault. The apples were delicious and the poem is.  (Eleanor had sent another London Town poem).....It has been another entirely lovely day of melting snow and we have been out in it half the time in batches, I in each batch. If you had been here we should have been more Christmassy.  Goodbye. I hope we shall meet next Christmas time.
             Yours ever
                          Edward Thomas.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Farewell to the Old Year  from Eleanor and greetings for the New.

Happy New Year!

Eleanor Farjeon
The  Thomas Poem

This is one of those Thomas poems that it is easy to overlook or under-value, I think. It's quite brave, the disconcerting vision of the tripod and the pig-barrow.
 I like these 'encounter' poems of his, with a snatch of conversation that stays in the mind long afterwards. They are 'Wordsworthian'  poems  but more pithy and succinct.
Why does the old man want the year over - the war? Lost a son? Or is he thinking of his own life, ready for a new year to bring it to a close perhaps?

Of course the old man and the lively young boys concern the old and new year, like Eleanor's but rather more subtly. I wonder whether we use this imagery as much as we once did.
 I wish you a very happy New Year.

The New Year

He was the one man I met up in the woods
That stormy New Year's morning; and at first sight,
Fifty yards off, I could not tell how much
Of the strange tripod was a man. His body,
Bowed horizontal, was supported equally
By legs at one end, by a rake at the other:
Thus he rested, far less like a man than
His wheel-barrow in profile was like a pig.
But when I saw it was an old man bent,
At the same moment came into my mind
The games at which boys bend thus, High-Cockalorum,
Or Fly-the-garter, and Leap-frog. At the sound
Of footsteps he began to straighten himself;
His head rolled under his cape like a tortoise's;
He took an unlit pipe out of his mouth
Politely ere I wished him "A Happy New Year,"
And with his head cast upward sideways muttered--
So far as I could hear through the trees' roar--
"Happy New Year, and may it come fastish, too,"
While I strode by and he turned to raking leaves.