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Last on

Sat 12 Jul 2014 23:30 BBC Radio 4

Duration:
30 minutes
First broadcast:
Sunday 06 July 2014

Poet Deryn Rees-Jones looks at the life and work of writer Helen Thomas, her tempestuous marriage to poet Edward Thomas and her role in keeping his flame alive after his death in World War One.

She travels to Liverpool, south London and Steep in Hampshire, in the footsteps of this incredibly spirited, progressive woman, who scandalised Thomas' friends with her candid accounts of her relationship with Edward in her memoirs, As It Was and World Without End. Deryn talks to playwright Nick Dear, poet Alison Brackenbury, critic Edna Longley and members of the Edward Thomas Fellowship about Helen's extraordinary life, her response to the tragedy of Edward's death and her talents as a writer.

Deryn also reads from her own poetic sequence, 'And you, Helen' - a response to Edward Thomas' poem of the same name.

Readings by Elaine Claxton and Wilf Scolding

Produced by Emma Harding

And you, Helen by Edward Thomas

And you, Helen, what should I give you?
So many things I would give you
Had I an infinite great store
Offered me and I stood before
To choose. I would give you youth,
All kinds of loveliness and truth,
A clear eye as good as mine,
Lands, waters, flowers, wine,
As many children as your heart
Might wish for, a far better art
Than mine can be, all you have lost
Upon the travelling waters tossed,
Or given to me. If I could choose
Freely in that great treasure-house
Anything from any shelf,
I would give you back yourself,
And power to discriminate
What you want and want it not too late,
Many fair days free from care
And heart to enjoy both foul and fair,
And myself, too, if I could find
Where it lay hidden and it proved kind.

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