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This article is taken from PN Review 154, Volume 30 Number 2, November - December 2003.

'Cock Crow': Why Edward Thomas isn't Thomas Hardy David Gervais


There's an amusing story of Hardy and his wife cycling down the main street of Piddletrenthide, past the villagers sitting outside their cottages watching them. The Hardys looked straight ahead and ignored them. The point of this is that some of these villagers were Hardy's relatives. This confirms one's sense of how different Edward Thomas and Hardy were. I will put this case in literary terms but other things are clearly at stake too. For one, Thomas would have been on foot, not cycling, and he would probably have stopped to chat with one of the locals. As for the aloof Hardy, Donald Davie's shrewdly remarked that he was in part an 'upwardly mobile deracine', a Henchard who aspired to be a Farfrae, less indigenous than we like to think. The Duke of Windsor once had lunch at Max Gate.

I will now turn to 'Cock-Crow':

Out of the wood of thought that grows by night
To be cut down by the sharp axe of light,
Cleaving the darkness with a silver blow:
And bright before my eyes twin trumpeters stand,
Heralds of splendour, one at either hand,
Each facing each as in a coat of arms:
The milkers lace their boots up at the farms.


Several things are going on here. Thomas flirts with a dream world of epic fantasy only to bring it down to earth. The heraldic cockerels may be what releases ...


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