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This article is taken from PN Review 103, Volume 21 Number 5, May - June 1995.

On Editing Edward Thomas John Pikoulis

When The Collected Poems of Edward Thomas, edited by R. George Thomas, was published by the Clarendon Press in 1978, I had doubts about its reliability, doubts which have grown over the years and which are reinforced by the paperback edition (1987). In this essay, I explain my reservations about its titles, texts and punctuation, itemising my comments for ease of reference.


(1) 'Under the Woods' appears as 'Under the Wood', yet the first line reads: 'When these old woods were young' and a reference by the poet quoted in the notes opens, 'Lazy keeper in col under woods' (p. 399). If the editor wished to give titles to poems (a wish he neither explains nor defends), why not give them accurate ones?

(2) The Oxford edition prints 'Gone, gone again…' as 'Blenheim Oranges'. The warrant for this is given by quoting a letter of Thomas's to Eleanor Farjeon: 'In case I don't [see you] could you send me a copy of those last verses' - the Blenheim Oranges - of mine' (p. 418) ('The Blenheim Oranges', not 'Blenheim Oranges'.) Yet, when Thomas wrote to Gordon Bottomley about 'A Private', he identified it as 'The Mrs Greenland's Hawthorn Bush lines' (p. 66) and the editor is not minded to call it 'Mrs Greenland's Hawthorn Bush' on account of that any more than he calls 'The Lane' 'Green Lane, Froxfield' because Thomas calls it that in a letter (p. 421). 'The Blenheim Oranges' ...

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