Village Diary

Friends of the Dymock Poets

In the years leading up to the First World War, literary history was being made at the village of Dymock in the valley of the River Leadon.

Six poets were walking and talking, reading and writing in the countryside between May Hill in Gloucestershire and the Malverns. They were:

Lascelles Abercrombie
Wilfred Gibson
John Drinkwater
Rupert Brooke
Robert Frost
Edward Thomas

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The sun used to shine while we two walked
Slowly together, paused and started
Again, and sometimes mused, sometimes talked
As either pleased, and cheerfully parted.

From 'The Sun used to Shine'      Edward Thomas

Written about his walks with Robert Frost

They tell me the cottage where we dwelt
Its wind torn thatch goes now unmended
Its life of hundreds of years has ended
By letting the rain I knew outdoors
In onto the upper chamber floors.

From 'The Thatch'       Robert Frost

Written about Lascelles Abercrombie's cottage near Dymock
which also became home to the Frosts after the outbreak of war.

Still may Time hold some golden space
Where I'll unpack that scented store
Of song and flower and sky and face,
And count, and touch, and turn them o'er.

From 'The Treasure'       Rupert Brooke

First published in New Numbers, issue no. 4

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The year 1914 was important for all of the Dymock Poets - not least because their rural idyll was shattered by the outbreak of war. But it was also an incredibly productive year for each of them.

In February, the first issue of New Numbers was produced by Gibson and Abercrombie. It contained new poems by both of them as well as Drinkwater and Brooke. Edward Thomas's book, In Pursuit of Spring, was published in April; when Frost read it, he encouraged Thomas to turn to writing poetry. Frost's own book, North of Boston, still considered by many to be his best book of poems, was published in London in May.

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Two volumes of poetry by Gibson were published in 1914 - Fires and Borderlands. Drinkwater, busy producing and directing plays at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre, put on the first performance of Abercrombie's play, The End of the World, in September. Drinkwater continued to write poems, and these were published in Swords and Ploughshares the following year.

The second issue of New Numbers appeared in April 1914, and Brooke visited Dymock in June to help with preparations for the third issue in August. He had just returned from a year in North America and the South Seas, writing articles for the Westminster Gazette. Brooke ended the year as a soldier, just returned from fighting in Belgium, writing his famous war sonnets for what would be the final issue of New Numbers.

For Thomas, the end of 1914 was a beginning - he started writing poetry in December and before his death at Arras in April 1917 he had written almost 150 poems which are still in print today.

Friends of the Dymock Poets
To learn more about the Dymock Poets and their contribution to our literary history, we hope you will want to join the Friends of the Dymock Poets.

We have been established to:

  • foster an interest in the work of the Dymock Poets
  • help preserve places and things associated with the Dymock Poets
  • keep members informed of literary and other matter relating to the Dymock Poets
  • help protect the border countryside of Herefordshire and Gloucestershire
  • increase knowledge and appreciation of the landscape between May Hill and the Malverns

We offer our members:

  • lectures, poetry readings, social meetings, an annual journal
  • newsletters with information about forthcoming events, occasional articles, book reviews, details of FDP activities
  • guided walks in the countryside of the Dymock Poets
  • links with other literary societies
  • an annual event to commemorate the first meeting between Edward Thomas and Robert Frost on 6th October 1913, and the FDP's founding on 6th October 1993

For further information please contact the Friends of the Dymock Poets

Chairman (Richard): 01531 892920
Secretary (Jackie): 01531 890385