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Last Poems by Edward Thomas first edition 1918

Last Poems by Edward Thomas first edition 1918


London: Selwyn & Blount, 1918 


8vo., publisher’s paper-covered board with paper label printed in black to spine; outer edges untrimmed; pp. [v], vi-vii, [i], 9-95, [i], [1]-8, [ads.]; a good to very good copy, the boards rubbed and creased with the paper beginning to peel in places (repaired to upper edge of front board); a couple of ink stains to lower board; paper label chipped and creased, a little loss to head; endpapers offset; pages evenly browned; half title with small closed tear to upper margin. 


First edition, on poor quality wartime paper. Eckert notes that this book is "obviously a wartime production, of poor paper and binding" 


Edward Thomas, who also wrote under the penname Edward Eastaway, began life as a biographer, nature and travel writer, and only began to diversify into poetry - which he called ‘the highest form of literature’ - at the age of 36. It was after he had moved, together with his family, to Steep in Hampshire that he began to publish his verses. Just one year later, in 1915, Thomas enlisted in the Artists Rifles regiment. He was killed shortly after arriving in Arras on Easter Monday 1917. Six Poems, which appeared in 1916, was the only collection published in his lifetime, with Poems published shortly after his death and this, Last Poems, following the year after. 


Although Thomas is known today as a war poet, the majority of his output was based around his measured appraisal of rural England and his love of natural beauty. The present volume includes the verse This is no case of Petty Right or Wrong, which in some ways is the only one of his poems which can be considered a war poem per se, featuring the lines: 


I hate not Germans, nor grow hot

With love of Englishmen, to please 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.

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