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And You, Helen

Poet Daljit Nagra introduces And You, Helen featuring Edward Thomas's wife who nurtured her husband’s legacy. From 2014.

Poet Daljit Nagra revisits the BBC's radio poetry archive and chooses And You, Helen featuring writer Helen Thomas and her tempestuous marriage to poet Edward Thomas and her role in keeping his flame alive after his death in World War One.

Presented by poet Deryn Rees-Jones who 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.

First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 2014.

30 minutes