(c) Glasgow Museums; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

‘Thaw’ by John Kay, courtesy of BBC Your Paintings


Over the land freckled with snow half-thawed
The speculating rooks at their nests cawed
And saw from elm-tops, delicate as flowers of grass,
What we below could not see, Winter pass.

Edward Thomas

I’m reading Matthew Hollis’ biography of the poet Edward Thomas at the moment. It’s very good. Tonight I picked up an old Faber volume of 20th Century Verse from Oxfam, and this rather fitting-for-my-mood poem by Thomas was inside. On first reading Thomas’ poems, I am always unimpressed. They seem simplistic and somewhat hackneyed, and I wonder what all the fuss is about. However, the more I let them simmer in my mind, the more I am struck by their power. Could I have chosen the inspired ‘freckled’ and ‘speculating’ to so perfectly capture this moment of Winter teetering on the edge of Spring? Probably not. His words have managed to cast a bit of a spell on me. Just like his personality, which is so engagingly brought to life by Hollis. It’s definitely a book for this time of year; thought provoking, engrossing and challenging, it certainly takes the edge off these chilly evenings. – Rachel