Edward Thomas has been labelled a ‘Georgian poet’ and a ‘war poet’, and he was really a little of both of these, and yet not quite either of them. In a brief flurry of poetic creativity between late 1914 and his death in the Great War in 1917, Edward Thomas produced some of the finest poems of the early twentieth century. ‘Aspens’ is one of his best.
All day and night, save winter, every weather,
Above the inn, the smithy, and the shop,
The aspens at the cross-roads talk together
Of rain, until their last leaves fall from the top.
Out of the blacksmith’s cavern comes the ringing
Of hammer, shoe, and anvil; out of the inn
The clink, the hum, the roar, the random singing –
The sounds that for these fifty years have been.
The whisper of the aspens is not drowned,
And over lightless pane and footless road,