Poem introduction

We are very pleased to be able to include remarkable recordings, made long after Thomas’s death by the poet’s widow, Helen Thomas. In Edward Thomas’s memory, the Poetry Archive will donate 60% of the proceeds from sales of these recordings to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

Old Man

 
Old Man, or Lad's-love,—in the name there's nothing
To one that knows not Lad's-love, or Old Man,
The hoar-green feathery herb, almost a tree,
Growing with rosemary and lavender.
Even to one that knows it well, the names
Half decorate, half perplex, the thing it is:
At least, what that is clings not to the names
In spite of time. And yet I like the names.
 
The herb itself I like not, but for certain
I love it, as some day the child will love it
Who plucks a feather from the door-side bush
Whenever she goes in or out of the house.
Often she waits there, snipping the tips and shrivelling
The shreds at last on to the path, perhaps
Thinking, perhaps of nothing, till she sniffs
Her fingers and runs off. The bush is still
But half as tall as she, though it is as old;
So well she clips it. Not a word she says;
And I can only wonder how much hereafter
She will remember, with that bitter scent,
Of garden rows, and ancient damson-trees
Topping a hedge, a bent path to a door,
A low thick bush beside the door, and me
Forbidding her to pick.
 
                                            As for myself,
Where first I met the bitter scent is lost.
I, too, often shrivel the grey shreds,
Sniff them and think and sniff again and try
Once more to think what it is I am remembering,
Always in vain. I cannot like the scent,
Yet I would rather give up others more sweet,
With no meaning, than this bitter one.
 
I have mislaid the key. I sniff the spray
And think of nothing; I see and I hear nothing;
Yet seem, too, to be listening, lying in wait
For what I should, yet never can, remember:
No garden appears, no path, no hoar-green bush
Of Lad's-love, or Old Man, no child beside,
Neither father nor mother, nor any playmate;
Only an avenue, dark, nameless, without end.
 
 

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Recordings

Edward Thomas

Edward Thomas Downloads read by Helen Thomas

1Adlestrop by Edward Thomas (read by Helen Thomas)

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2October by Edward Thomas (read by Helen Thomas)

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3The Trumpet by Edward Thomas (read by Helen Thomas)

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4Interval by Edward Thomas (read by Helen Thomas)

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5The Path by Edward Thomas (read by Helen Thomas)

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6The Glory by Edward Thomas (read by Helen Thomas)

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7Introduction to 'Old Man' by Edward Thomas (read by Helen Thomas)

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8Old Man by Edward Thomas (read by Helen Thomas)

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9Aspens by Edward Thomas (read by Helen Thomas)

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10Sowing by Edward Thomas (read by Helen Thomas)

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11Fifty Faggots by Edward Thomas (read by Helen Thomas)

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12Digging by Edward Thomas (read by Helen Thomas)

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13Words by Edward Thomas (read by Helen Thomas)

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14'If I should ever by chance ...' by Edward Thomas (read by Helen Thomas)

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15When Gorse is Out of Flower by Edward Thomas (read by Helen Thomas)

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16Lob (excerpt) by Edward Thomas (read by Helen Thomas)

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17Swedes by Edward Thomas (read by Helen Thomas)

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18Tall Nettles by Edward Thomas (read by Helen Thomas)

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19The Gallows by Edward Thomas (read by Helen Thomas)

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20Country People by Edward Thomas (read by Helen Thomas)

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21May 23 by Edward Thomas (read by Helen Thomas)

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22The Owl by Edward Thomas (read by Helen Thomas)

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23Lights Out by Edward Thomas (read by Helen Thomas)

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1The Commonwealth War Graves Commission will receive 60% of proceeds from all sales of this album.