February Afternoon

Posted in: Comment, News and Updates

To mark World Poetry Day, here's Edward Thomas's February Afternoon


Men heard this roar of parleying starlings, saw,

A thousand years ago even as now,

Black rooks with white gulls following the plough

So that the first are last until a caw

Commands that last are first again, – a law

Which was of old when one, like me, dreamed how

A thousand years might dust lie on his brow

Yet thus would birds do between hedge and shaw.

Time swims before me, making as a day

A thousand years, while the broad ploughland oak

Roars mill-like and men strike and bear the stroke

Of war as ever, audacious or resigned,

And God still sits aloft in the array

That we have wrought him, stone-deaf and stone-blind.


Thomas wrote this sonnet in 1916 – a year before he was killed at the battle of Arras. It is a reflection on the continuity and timelessness of nature, and, seemingly, of war.

Posted in: Comment, News and Updates


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