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Edward Thomas

(3 March 1878 - 9 April 1917 / London / England)

Adlestrop


Yes, I remember Adlestrop --
The name, because one afternoon
Of heat the express-train drew up there
Unwontedly. It was late June.

The steam hissed. Someone cleared his throat.
No one left and no one came
On the bare platform. What I saw
Was Adlestrop -- only the name

And willows, willow-herb, and grass,
And meadowsweet, and haycocks dry,
No whit less still and lonely fair
Than the high cloudlets in the sky.

And for that minute a blackbird sang
Close by, and round him, mistier,
Farther and farther, all the birds
Of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire.

Submitted: Tuesday, December 31, 2002

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  • Jean-paul Audouy (1/23/2013 11:39:00 AM)

    Did just the same ad Marlene. I wanted absolutely to read the whole poem after its evoked in Sweet Tooth p.178. I've know some of the other War Poets and love everything by Wilfred Owen. Thanks to Ian McEwan, I'll discover Edward Thomas. (Report) Reply

  • Marlene Dodes-callahan (12/17/2012 9:15:00 PM)

    I regret the many years I did not know this poet and thanks to Ian McEwan's mention of him and this poem in particular, in his latest novel Sweet Tooth, I can add him to my favourites. (Report) Reply

  • John Davidson (10/16/2012 8:59:00 AM)

    The unwonted stop by Thomas's train at Addlestrop took place in June 1914, before the start of the war. He wrote the poem much later, shortly before being killed at the Battle of Arras in 1917. Prosaically, the platform was empty because no train was due. Poetically, by the time Thomas wrote Adlestrop, he may indeed have been invoking England emptied by the war as well as encapsulating a moment now gone. The scene he conjures must have starkly contrasted with the experience of war. (Report) Reply

  • Justin Tuijl (8/18/2012 7:04:00 AM)

    but why was the fair: still and lonely
    why was the platform bare and the haycocks dry?
    when I first saw this poem at school, may years ago, our teacher said there was more meaning to this poem than just the obvious appreciation of the countryside and that it is indeed an anti war poem.
    The village was empty because the men had gone off to fight.
    I am never sure now as no-one ever mentions this. (Report) Reply

  • Caroline Langdon (3/8/2012 3:27:00 AM)

    I read out this poem at my brother's funeral on 5 March 2012 as he loved the area and did railway walks there. (Report) Reply

  • Andrew Hoellering (10/20/2009 1:39:00 AM)

    Andrew Hoellering (10/20/2009 1: 37: 00 AM)
    | Delete this message
    Yes, a great poet thanks in part to his friendship with Robert Frost, who turned him from prose to poetry and was devastated by his premature death in the first world war.
    Each time I read the poem I am struck by something new -this time 'for the minute', meaning both at that time and for the joy of the moment.
    The receding horizons of landscape and bird song in the last verse are, quite simply, unforgettable. (Report) Reply

  • Tom Bulfin (3/2/2009 6:09:00 AM)

    A delightful poem which exudes peace and quiet even while the poet sits in the express train ready to be whisked off t God-knows -where.I have studied this poem with many classes down through the years and have never failed to enjoy it (not so sure about the classes!) (Report) Reply

  • Fay Slimm (11/29/2008 9:00:00 AM)

    With this re-reading of a verse learnt so many years ago, I was transported back to the same classroom and enthusiastic teacher who first introduced me to Edward Thomas - so yes, thanks to Mr. T. I do remember Adlestrop and still delight in this brilliant unforced picture of early century countryside..... (Report) Reply

  • Eric Jump (2/25/2006 11:33:00 PM)

    This is such a fresh, alive reality of the rhythms and proportions of nature providing an unexpected respite for all of us on the hissing express; a totally unforced radiance of words. We need Edward Thomas more than ever for our sesquiquattuordecimcentennial. What a thrill to discover a great poet! (Report) Reply

Read all 10 comments »

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