Now All Roads Lead to France: The Last Years of Edward Thomas - Matthew Hollis
description from BBC.UK

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A compelling exploration of the making of one of Britain's most influential First World War poets - Edward Thomas, who is perhaps best-remembered for his poem 'Adlestrop'.

Matthew Hollis's new biography is an account of Thomas's final five years and of his momentous and mutually-inspiring friendship with the American poet, Robert Frost.

Although an accomplished prose-writer and literary critic, Edward Thomas only began writing poetry in 1914, at the age of 36. Before then, Thomas had been tormented by what he regarded as the banality of his work, by his struggle with depression and by his marriage.

But as his friendship with Frost blossomed, Thomas wrote poem after poem, and his emotional affliction began to lift. The two friends began to formulate poetic ideas that would produce some of the most remarkable verse of the twentieth century. But the First World War put an ocean between them: Frost returned to the safety of New England, while Thomas stayed to fight for the Old. It is these roads taken - and those not taken - that are at the heart of this remarkable book, which culminates in Thomas's tragic death on Easter Monday 1917.

Read by Tobias Menzies

Abridged by Richard Hamilton

Produced by Emma Harding

'Now All Roads Lead to France' is published by Faber and Faber.

Matthew Hollis is the author of a volume of poetry, 'Ground Water', which was shortlisted for the Whitbread Prize for Poetry, the Guardian First Book Award and the Forward Prize for Best First Collection. This is his first prose book.
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Poem

Adlestrop

Yes, I remember Adlestrop --
The name, because one afternoon
Of heat the express-train drew up there
Unwontedly. It was late June.

The steam hissed. Someone cleared his throat.
No one left and no one came
On the bare platform. What I saw
Was Adlestrop -- only the name

And willows, willow-herb, and grass,
And meadowsweet, and haycocks dry,
No whit less still and lonely fair
Than the high cloudlets in the sky.

And for that minute a blackbird sang
Close by, and round him, mistier,
Farther and farther, all the birds
Of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire.
Edward Thomas