Edward Thomas wrote this before the start of the First World War.  Ivor Gurney’s view was that it said all that needed to be said about the English language.

Out of us all that make rhymes,

Will you choose sometimes –

As the winds use a crack in a wall or a drain,

Their joy or their pain to whistle through –

Choose me, you English words?


I know you: you are light as dreams,

Tough as oak, precious as gold, as poppies and corn

Or as an old cloak: sweet as our birds to the ear,

As the burnet rose in the heat of Midsummer:

Strange as the races of dead and unborn:

Strange and sweet equally, and familiar, to the eye,

As the dearest faces that a man knows,

And as lost homes are: but though older far

Than oldest yew – as our hills are, old –

Worn new again and again, young as our streams after rain:

And as dear as the earth which you prove that we love.


Make me content with some sweetness

From Wales whose nightingales have no wings –

From Wiltshire and Kent and Herefordshire,

And the villages there – from the names, and the things

No less. Let me sometimes dance with you,

Or climb or stand perchance in ecstacy,

Fixed and free in a rhyme, as poets do.

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