The Bridge Selection: Poems for the Road
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But two people fighting back to back can cut through a mob, a snake-dancing file can break a cordon, an army can meet an army. Two people can keep each other sane, can give support, conviction, love, massage, hope, sex. Three people are a delegation, a committee, a wedge. With four you can play bridge and start an organization. With six you can rent a whole house, eat pie for dinner with no seconds, and hold a fund-raising party. A dozen make a demonstration.
A hundred fill a hall. A thousand have solidarity and your own newsletter; ten thousand, power and your own paper; a hundred thousand, your own media; ten million, your own country. It goes on one at a time, it starts when you care to act, it starts when you do it again after they said no, it starts when you say We and know who you mean, and each day you mean one more. Many such details have their roots in his earlier prose writings, or the notebook jottings made on his many walks in the country.
The latter, breaking off in mid-sentence, are a poignant reminder that, at the time of his death, Edward Thomas was a poet who had only just found his voice.
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Andrew Motion is an English poet, novelist and biographer who was Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom from — ; the first to retire from the post. Motion is, therefore, admirably qualified to write on the re-evaluation of a poet whom he cites as an abiding influence. In the specially commissioned introduction to Selected Poems , he describes the emergence of Thomas from relative obscurity to his rightful place as a poet of the first importance, a crucial bridge between the tradition of English pastoral and the innovations of Modernism.
Hand-patterned paste-papers, valued for their durability and beauty, have a long tradition as a material for bookbinding.
Muriel Rukeyser: Selected Poems | Library of America
In a process that has seen little change in the hundreds of years since it was first used, sheets of paper, after being dampened and left a short while to rest, are brushed with a coloured starch paste produced by cooking a combination of flours. A pattern is then worked into the paste, using a variety of handmade tools and combs. The papers, at their most fragile at this stage, are put aside to air-dry for several hours before being pressed and patterned again. Once dry, they are flattened in a cast-iron standing press.
Experimenting with several textures and various shades of green, she developed an organic design, embodying natural rather than geometric forms. The result is wonderfully redolent — in texture and colour — of the grass and moss of the English countryside. Each paper is unique, mirroring in design and form the endless complexity to be found in nature. The distinctive qualities of letterpress have long been appreciated by lovers and collectors of fine books. Like poetry itself, letterpress editions appeal to the senses: the smell of the ink on the page, the feel of the grain in the paper and the slight impression left by the hot-metal type.
The simple elegance of a letterpress page belies the skill that the medium demands. He has worked across an exceptionably wide range of formats: his wood engravings have appeared on the covers of numerous Penguin editions as well as a metre-long mural at Charing Cross London Underground station; he is the designer of more than stamps for the British Post Office; and his watercolours and lithographs feature in countless publications. Like Thomas, Gentleman has a particular talent for capturing the spirit of a place, and much of his creative output springs from his close observation of the natural world made on his own country walks, particularly around his house in Suffolk.
The printing process of lithography literally, drawing on stone was invented in , and quickly became recognised as the best method of reproducing works of art and other images in colour. Highly skilled craftsmen would interpret an original image by eye, drawing separations of different colours which were then re-combined on the printing press to create a faithful reproduction of the original. In the early 20th century a number of artists in Europe and America began to experiment with producing their own colour separations, creating in the process a new artistic medium, in which translucent colours could be overprinted to striking effect.
Thus autolithography was born; its practitioners in Britain included Eric Ravilious, Elisabeth Frink, Henry Moore and — technically the finest of all — Barnett Freedman. When making a lithograph, the artist works directly on the printing medium be it stone, zinc plate or film and therefore every image is an original print, not a reproduction of a pre-existing work. This gives lithographs — and books containing them — a particularly strong appeal to collectors, especially when signed by the artist as this one is.
David Gentleman is a central figure in the British tradition of autolithography. Among his earliest work was a contribution to the Lyons lithographs series, alongside Edward Bawden, John Piper and others, and he has continued to return to this medium throughout his long creative life.
The craft techniques employed in this edition, limited to only 1, hand-numbered copies, are all characteristic of those used in fine press books in the early 20th century. Published to commemorate the death of Edward Thomas on 9 April , this is the second book in our series of war poets following the Selected Poems of Rupert Brooke and preceding those of Wilfred Owen. The same paper has been chosen for the endpapers.
The paste-paper sides, created by Victoria Hall, reflect the colour and texture of the grass and moss of the English countryside.
Loss of Passenger Train
In addition to the vignettes, David Gentleman has created nine illustrations to accompany the poems. These have been printed at Curwen Studios by autolithography — a process which produces an original artwork with every printing. The specially commissioned introduction is by Andrew Motion, poet, novelist and biographer.
His works include Laurels and Donkeys , a collection of poems drawing on the experiences of soldiers in conflicts, in this century and the last, in which British forces have fought. This collaboration of all the talents has realised a truly fitting tribute to the poetry of Edward Thomas. Here it is called ts'u-chih or "hurry with the weaving! South there is the winnow but it can't be used to sift with; north there is the Dipper but no wine or sauce it ladles.
The Draught Ox, Winnow, and other constellations of Chinese astronomy mentioned in the poem, though bearing useful-sounding names, are in fact as worthless as the friendship of the fellow student to whom the poet addresses his bitter reproach. Creepers have their time to grow, husband and wife their proper union.
The Tay Bridge Disaster
A thousand miles apart, we made our vow, far far -- mountain slopes between us. Thinking of you makes one old; your canopied carriage, how slow its coming!
These flowers sadden me -- orchis and angelica, petals unfurled, shedding glory all around; if no one plucks them in blossom time they'll wilt and die with the autumn grass. But if in truth you will keep your promise, how could I ever be untrue? I bend the limb and break off a flower, thinking to send it to the one I love. Fragrance fills my breast and sleeves, but the road is far -- it will never reach you. Why is such a gift worth the giving? Only because I remember how long ago we parted.
But her stint of work is never-ending, And her tears like sobbing showers descending. Though clear and shallow the Milky Way, Never they'll meet for many a day. No word she says, but stares dismayed, Alone by that surging River far. The lovers are permitted to meet once a year, when the wings of magpies provide a bridge for them to cross. In the four directions, broad plain on plain; east wind shakes the hundred grasses.
Among all I meet, nothing of the past; what can save us from sudden old age? Fullness and decay, each has its season; success -- I hate it, so late in coming! Man is not made of metal or stone; how can he hope to live for long? Swiftly he follows in the wake of change; a shining name -- let that be the prize! Beneath them, the ancient dead. Times of heat and cold in unending succession, but the years Heaven gives us are like morning dew.