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I NEVER SAW THAT LAND BEFORE

WITH a quiet subtlety of language, Edward Thomas paints a rural landscape that haunted him and may haunt the reader too.

I NEVER SAW THAT LAND BEFORE

I never saw that land before,

And now can never see it again;

Yet, as if by acquaintance hoar

Endeared, by gladness and by pain,

Great was the affection that I bore

To the valley and the river small,

The cattle, the grass, the bare ash trees,

The chickens from the farmsteads, all

Elm-hidden, and the tributaries

Descending at equal interval;

The blackthorns down along the brook

With wounds yellow as crocuses

Where yesterday the labourer's hook

Had sliced them cleanly; and the breeze

That hinted all and nothing spoke.

I neither expected anything

Nor yet remembered: but some goal

I touched then; and if I could sing

What would not even whisper my soul

As I went on my journeying.

I should use, as the trees and birds did,

A language not to be betrayed;

And what was hid should still be hid

Excepting from those like me made

Who answer when such whispers bid.

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