Saturday, May 23, 2015

Edward Thomas's first student lodgings, Cowley Road, Oxford.

On Saturday May 16th the plaque commemorating Edward Thomas's first year in Oxford was declared 'Installed'. It's a really attractive  stone plaque:

Mason - Richard Morley

We had a ceremony in the garden of 113. Richard Emeny, Chairman of the Edward Fellowship, describing how Edward came here to study before winning a scholarship to Lincoln College to read history.  I read one of the many letters written to Helen - almost daily very loving letters - and Gwilym Scourfield read the poem, The Word.
Appropriately we moved on to Lincoln College with Stephen Gill, Professor Emeritus, conducting us, seeing what we believe were Edward's rooms on Staircase 12- but I have my doubts. The Hall at Lincoln is charming, intimate with dark panelling and the usual portraits of  old wardens and the famous - John Wesley being prominent.
Lincoln's lack of money meant that it did not get 'restored' ie spoiled, and the Chapel's window glass is a  ? 16th Century wonder.
Lincoln College Chapel

Jonah and the Whale.
 I think the poem reflects a common experience- we forget almost all we studied formally and come to know what will last and be essential to us.
The Word

 THERE are so many things I have forgot,
That once were much to me, or that were not,
All lost, as is a childless woman's child
And its child's children, in the undefiled
Abyss of what can never be again.
I have forgot, too, names of the mighty men
That fought and lost or won in the old wars,
Of kings and fiends and gods, and most of the stars.
Some things I have forgot that I forget.
But lesser things there are, remembered yet,
Than all the others. One name that I have not--
Though 'tis an empty thingless name--forgot
Never can die because Spring after Spring
Some thrushes learn to say it as they sing.
There is always one at midday saying it clear
And tart--the name, only the name I hear.
While perhaps I am thinking of the elder scent
That is like food, or while I am content
With the wild rose scent that is like memory,
This name suddenly is cried out to me
From somewhere in the bushes by a bird
Over and over again, a pure thrush word.