TP logo

| Books | Music | Events | New work | Contact & ordering

Lay for the Day
9th April

The poet Edward Thomas was killed by the blast of a shell at the battle of Arras on this day in 1917. His home, in the last years of his life, was in the village of Steep, Hampshire.
From the book of Praises.

20. Of Steep

Where a stone faces France
in the long tilted meadow that butterflies dodder above,
whose wild herbs underfoot
scent the sheltered air at rest between the tall woods’ troubled tops.

In the persistent shade
of that hanger the fallow doe and her faun are checked, stock-still,
with poised hooves and low neck
outstretched to catch the taint of us she suspects, who stand subdued.

Vanished in the thicket,
we endow them as the deer that Edward Thomas sensed, who walked
daily among these trees,
when, near death, he invoked the encircling night they traversed

beyond the slight orbit
of his lamp and the solitary hilltop study above,
calling them last to mind
far from here. Now a stone faces France, in the haze, where he fell.

John Gibbens
from Collected Poems

The Lay Reader: an archive of the poetic calendar