I wrote this poem about the poet Edward Thomas who joined the Artists Rifles in 1915 and was killed at the Battle of Arras in 1917. I was inspired by an autobiographical extract written by his wife, Helen Thomas, that Sebastian Faulks included in his book ‘A Broken World – Letters, Diaries and Memories of the Great War.’
i.m. Edward Thomas
You did not have to join the great departed
but felt the pull of the road not taken,
that track through mud and broken rock,
over grown with weeds taller than your children.
Your son who shared your love of maps,
abandoned railway stations. You were a man
who paused in love, whose bird call
echoed over the mountain, and she ran
to catch your name that final night
you both knew you’d never be home again.