In Pursuit of Edward Thomas

Tuesday 27 August 2019

On Sunday I met up with Ben Mackay, who is writing a book following in the footsteps (and cycle tracks) of Edward Thomas’s In Pursuit of Spring, and Saeko Yoshikawa, who has translated, and published, Thomas’s poems in Japan.

We walked a circuit around Box Hill and Mickleham in the hottest August Bank Holiday on record: not typical Edward Thomas weather, but there was plenty of shade in the chalk woodlands, in Mickleham church and in The Running Horses, which Thomas mentions in the text.

It was nice for me to share my ET enthusiasm with other devotees. I particularly like the way that Thomas’s life becomes interwoven with the lives of his followers. It was moving to hear about Ben’s very personal connection to Thomas’s home landscape in Hampshire. Perhaps we are all partly chasing our own shadows across the chalk: in pursuit of a doppelganger who both is, and isn’t, Edward Thomas.

‘He goes: I follow: no release
Until he ceases …’

I’m looking forward to doing more of the walks, especially the second half of the journey, when the book is published. It feels like a book I might have written. At least before I sunk under the weight of never-ending research and a spring that is always beyond the next hill.

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