Lovers of poetry and Slow Travellers can often be synonymous. Here we look at some delightful areas in and around Steep in rural Hampshire where Edward Thomas and his family lived from 1906 until 1916 when he enlisted in the Great War.
Edward Thomas is usually remembered as a Great War poet and the author of Adlestrop – once voted the nation’s 20th favourite poem - although he had a distinguished career as a critic, prose writer and reviewer before he began to write in verse. Only the last three years of his life were devoted to poetry and not many themes are directly related to the war. His poems reflect the natural beauty of this small corner of Hampshire, his ideas and visions scribbled in his notebook as he walked, and put later onto paper with reflection and sensitivity.
His friendship with the American poet, Robert Frost, inadvertently seems to have been what propelled him to enlist. He was ashamed of his own relative cowardice and indecision when they were both confronted by an aggressive gamekeeper during a walk, and when Frost later sent him a copy of his recently penned poem The Road Not Taken, he interpreted the poem's choosing of the ways as a challenge to choose the bravest and most difficult route. He decided to fight for his country and was subsequently killed on the first day of the battle of Arras in April 1917.