No One So Much As You

No one so much as you
Loves this my clay,
Or would lament as you
Its dying day.

You know me through and through
Though I have not told,
And though with what you know
You are not bold.

None ever was so fair
As I thought you:
Not a word can I bear
Spoken against you.

All that I ever did
For you seemed coarse
Compared with what I hid
Nor put in force.

My eyes scarce dare meet you
Lest they should prove
I but respond to you
And do not love.

We look and understand,
We cannot speak
Except in trifles and
Words the most weak.

For I at most accept
Your love, regretting
That is all: I have kept
Only a fretting

That I could not return
All that you gave
And could not ever burn
With the love you have,

Till sometimes it did seem
Better it were
Never to see you more
Than linger here

With only gratitude
Instead of love –
A pine in solitude
Cradling a dove.

– Edward Thomas


This is a poem I came across on Minstrels, and the first two lines have remained with me since. I find the slightly archaic phrasing(‘No one so much as you’) and unusual word choice (‘my clay’) compelling, in addition to the slightly uneven alternating line length giving you a sense of a skipped beat when you read this out loud.
You can read a little about Edward Thomas here and view a collection of his poems (in addition to that of other War Poets) here.

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  1. Hypothalamus

    Are the words “my clay” metaphorical in this poem ? What does it signify here ?

    Posted March 10, 2011 at 09:48 | Permalink | Reply
    • Madhu

      The clay he refers to is his body, but there is also the implication of it being unformed, or having been unformed at some point – clay in someone’s hands to be molded.
      When I first read it on Minstrels, what struck me was the phrasing, and the way the metro alternates between long and short, leaving one with a sense of rushing on, or incompleteness. I knew he was a War poet and that was about it.
      I did some more reading before I posted the poem here and found that it was addressed to his *mother* and not, as I had assumed, to someone he loved romantically, hence my thoughts of ‘clay’ being more than just a reference to flesh. This link gives you a little more information, and this site has pictures of his draft as well as of a typewritten version of this poem.

      Posted March 10, 2011 at 12:04 | Permalink

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