The Child on the Cliffs

By Edward Thomas 1878–1917 Edward Thomas
Mother, the root of this little yellow flower
Among the stones has the taste of quinine.
Things are strange to-day on the cliff. The sun shines so bright,
And the grasshopper works at his sewing-machine
So hard. Here’s one on my hand, mother, look;
I lie so still. There’s one on your book.

But I have something to tell more strange. So leave
Your book to the grasshopper, mother dear,—
Like a green knight in a dazzling market-place,—
And listen now. Can you hear what I hear
Far out? Now and then the foam there curls
And stretches a white arm out like a girl’s.

Fishes and gulls ring no bells. There cannot be
A chapel or church between here and Devon,
With fishes or gulls ringing its bell,—hark!—
Somewhere under the sea or up in heaven.
“It’s the bell, my son, out in the bay
On the buoy. It does sound sweet to-day.”

Sweeter I never heard, mother, no, not in all Wales.
I should like to be lying under that foam,
Dead, but able to hear the sound of the bell,
And certain that you would often come
And rest, listening happily.
I should be happy if that could be.

Source: Last Poems (1918)

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Poet Edward Thomas 1878–1917

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Georgian

Subjects Nature, Seas, Rivers, & Streams, Animals

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza

 Edward  Thomas

Biography

Such prominent critics and authors as Walter de la Mare, Aldous Huxley, Peter SacksSeamus Heaney, and Edna Longley have called Edward Thomas one of England's most important poets. Since 2000, much serious consideration has been given to Thomas's work. Most critics would agree with Andrew Motion, who states that Thomas occupies "a crucial place in the development of twentieth-century poetry" for introducing a modern . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Nature, Seas, Rivers, & Streams, Animals

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Georgian

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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