In Search of Spring

"THIS is the record of a journey from London to the Quantock Hills—to Nether Stowey, Kilve, Crowcombe, and West Bagborough, to the high point where the Taunton-Bridgwater road tops the hills and shows all Exmoor behind, all the Mendips before, and upon the left the sea, and Wales very far off. It was a journey on or with a bicycle. The season was Easter, a March Easter. “A North-Easter, probably?” No. Nor did much north-east go to the making of it. I will give its pedigree briefly, going back only a month—that is, to the days when I began to calculate, or guess methodically, what the weather would be like at Easter."

 


‘In Pursuit of Spring’ is a classic of English literature that offers its reader directions out of London on a pilgrimage to the ‘holy of holy of English poetry’, Coleridge’s beloved Quantock Hills. Here is a mystic’s view of nature, literature and personality in which the experience of one’s own unprotected being within a landscape is a sacred ritual. Written in 1913, as the threat of a European war grew, it is also a book that speaks for the value of introspection and against the power of historical forces.

One of the most interesting and intriguing features of 'In Pursuit of Spring' is the Other Man, a strange, nameless character who appears from time to time on the journey. Like the narrator, the Other Man is heading for Kilve and occasionally the two ride along together. He seems to be a collection of Thomas’s own traits held up for closer inspection or perhaps the character Thomas thought he saw reflected in his own notebooks. The theme of the alternate self, pursued once met on a journey, is taken up in Thomas's poem The Other, one of many points at which his prose and poetry intersect.

Edward Thomas has a reputation as the poet other poets admire. He is also a prose writer on themes that anyone concerned with our ecology, our inadequate definition of ourselves and our potential for rebirth will enormously enjoy.

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