Edward Thomas, the son of a civil servant from Wales, was born in London on 3rd March, 1878. After his education at St. Paul's School and Lincoln College, Oxford, Thomas became a writer of reviews and topographical works. His first book, The Woodland Life, was published in 1897.
In 1909 Thomas published a biography of Richard Jefferies, the writer and naturalist. Other books by Thomas included The Heart of England (1906), The South Country (1909), The Icknield Way (1913) and the novel, The Happy-Go-Lucky Morgans (1913).
In the summer of 1915 Thomas enlisted as a private in the Artists' Rifles. The following year he was made a junior officer and transferred to the Royal Artillery. Lieutenant Edward Thomas began writing war poetry in 1915 but only a couple of these were published before he was killed by an exploding shell at Arras on 9th April, 1917.
After the war, his wife, Helen Thomas wrote about their relationship in As it Was (1926) and World Without End (1931). Their daughter, Myfanwy Thomas, also published her autobiography, One of These Fine Days (1982).
The flowers left thick at nightfall in the wood
This Eastertide call into mind the men,
Now far from home, who, with their sweethearts, should
Have gathered them and will do never again.
This is no case of petty right or wrong
That politicians or philosophers
Can judge. I hate not Germans, or grow hot
With love of Englishmen, to please the newspapers.
Beside my hate for one fat patriot
My hatred of the Kaiser is love true: -
A kind of god he is, banging a gong.
But I have not to choose between the two,
Or between justice and injustice. Dinned
With war and argument I read no more
Than in the storm smoking along the wind
Athwart the wood. Two witches' caldrons roar.
From one the weather shall rise clear and gay;
Out of the other an England beautiful
And like her mother that died yesterday.
Little I know or care if, being dull,
I shall miss something that historians
Can rake out the ashes with perchance
The phoenix broods serene above their ken.
But with the best and meanest Englishman
I am one in crying, God save England, lest
We lose what never slaves and cattle blessed.
The ages made her that made us from dust:
She is all we know and live by, and we trust
She is good and must endure, loving her so:
And as we love ourselves we hate her foe.