Monday, April 18, 2011

"Let Us Go Home Across The Shires": W. S. Graham

My knowledge of the poetry of W. S. Graham (1918-1986) is limited to what I have encountered here and there in anthologies.  I recently came across the following lovely poem by him.

          The Stepping Stones

I have my yellow boots on to walk
Across the shires where I hide
Away from my true people and all
I can't put easily into my life.

So you will see I am stepping on
The stones between the runnels getting
Nowhere nowhere.  It is almost
Embarrassing to be alive alone.

Take my hand and pull me over from
The last stone on to the moss and
The three celandines.  Now my dear
Let us go home across the shires.

W. S. Graham, Collected Poems (Faber and Faber 1979).

I found the poem in The Bloodaxe Book of 20th Century Poetry (Bloodaxe Books 2000), which is edited by Edna Longley.  We owe a debt of gratitude to Longley for her work on the poetry and prose of Edward Thomas, which culminated in The Annotated Collected Poems of 2008.  Her criticism is excellent, and may be found in Poetry and Posterity, Poetry in the Wars, and other volumes.  She is the wife of Michael Longley, whose admiration for Edward Thomas is evident in his own poetry.

                         Richard Eurich, "The Road to Grassington" (1971)


Shelley said...

Robert Frost is probably my biggest influence--is Edward Thomas the friend Frost loved?

Stephen Pentz said...

Thank you for visiting and commenting again, Shelley.

Yes, Thomas was the friend you speak of. You are probably familiar with them, but, if not, you may wish to look at Frost's "To E. T." and "Iris by Night," which are both about Thomas. I did a post on their friendship on April 28, 2010 ("The Only Brother I Ever Had"). Also, John Walsh's Into My Own (about Frost's years in England) and Jay Parini's Robert Frost: A Life both contain excellent material on the friendship.

Thanks again.