“I could not see you to say goodbye”
Thomas’s closest and oldest friend was the writer and editor Edward Garnett. The two men met long before the war, and were leading members of the “Mont Blanc” literary club (so-named for the French restaurant in SoHo where they met), and they ate together every Tuesday for nearly a decade. Garnett tried to use his influence to obtain home service for Thomas, but was not successful. Thomas wrote this last letter (which is from the Ransom Center’s Edward Garnett collection) to his old friend from a British army base in January 1917. Four months later—two months into his French campaign—he was killed by an exploding shell during the first hours of the Battle of Arras on Easter, 1917.
Rain, midnight rain, nothing but the wild rain
On this bleak hut, and solitude, and me
Remembering again that I shall die
And neither hear the rain nor give it thanks
For washing me cleaner than I have been
Since I was born into solitude.
Blessed are the dead that the rain rains upon:
But here I pray that none whom once I loved
Is dying tonight or lying still awake
Solitary, listening to the rain,
Either in pain or thus in sympathy
Helpless among the living and the dead,
Like a cold water among broken reeds,
Myriads of broken reeds all still and stiff,
Like me who have no love which this wild rain
Has not dissolved except the love of death,
If love it be towards what is perfect and
Cannot, the tempest tells me, disappoint.