Lay for the Day
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.
the book of Praises.
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
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.
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