'The one hundred and forty poems he wrote in the last two years of his life are a miracle. I can think of no body of work in English that is more mysterious.' - Michael Longley. When Edward Thomas died in the First World War, very few of his poems had been published, but he is now recognised as one of the finest and most influential poets of the last century. Although often referred to as 'a poet's poet', his writing has an almost universal appeal. He wrote accessibly, on traditional themes - the natural world, human relationships, transience and mortality. And yet his poetry is alive with the critical intelligence that came from years of writing non-fiction and reviewing verse. "Branch-Lines" captures the range of Thomas' achievement, not least by combining poetry with prose. In this unique collection, fifty-five contemporary poets reflect on Thomas' craftsmanship and enduring power. Some have chosen poems of their own in which they detect his influence, others have written new poems in his honour.
Each poet has also contributed a piece of prose, and the volume contains an introduction, four critical essays, illustrations, a foreword by Andrew Motion and an afterword by Michael Longley. "Branch-Lines" offers a fascinating perspective on the workings of literary influence, with personal insights from some of the leading poet-critics of our time. 'The collection has a double value. It is a celebration of Thomas, and dignified tribute to his achievement; at the same time it bears witness to his powers of regeneration' - Andrew Motion. 'I read Thomas' collected poems at a sitting, poem by poem, all the way through and felt as I had not felt since reading Lawrence and Graves ten years before: I love this man, I can learn from him.' - David Constantine. 'I have always loved Edward Thomas' poetry' - Geoffrey Hill. 'He comes naturally, I think, to writers in English, like grass growing.' - U. A. Fanthorpe. 'When I started to try and write poetry and prose, a very uncertain beginning, it would have been even more uncertain if I hadn't read Thomas' poetry in my teens.' - Tom Paulin.
Edward Thomas was born in London in 1878 and educated at St Paul s School and Lincoln College, Oxford. While still an undergraduate, he published his first book, The Woodland Life, and married Helen Noble, with whom he had three children. Thomas became a professional author, producing over twenty prose books, as well as a novel (The Happy-Go-Lucky Morgans), a biography of Richard Jefferies, and critical studies of Maurice Maeterlinck, Lafcadio Hearn, George Borrow, Walter Pater, Swinburne and Keats. He also introduced editions of Borrow, George Herbert, Christopher Marlowe and William Cobbett, and wrote hundreds of book reviews and articles. Encouraged by Robert Frost, he began writing poetry in 1914 producing a remarkable body of poetry in the next few years. Only a few poems were published in his lifetime, under the pseudonym Edward Eastaway; Poems by Edward Thomas was published in October 1917 and the first edition of his Collected Poems in 1920. Thomas joined the Artists Rifles in 1915. He was killed on Easter Sunday 1917 during the Battle of Arras."