Exactly one hundred years ago today, poet Edward Thomas, and his wife Helen were on a train, travelling to see his friend, and fellow poet, Robert Frost. This poem was inspired by that journey- redolent of a quintessential English summer afternoon. I have loved this poem since childhood – and share it with you on its centenary
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.
This is the station sign, and bench [bearing a brass plaque inscribed with the poem] These were relocated to the village bus shelter, when Dr Beeching closed the station in 1966. The village has another literary connection - Jane Austen made several visits to Adlestrop. where her uncle was the rector. It is believed the house and grounds of Adlestrop Park were the setting for her novel Mansfield Park.
Sadly, Thomas never saw his poem published- it first appeared in print just three weeks after his death at the Battle of Arras in WW1. This poem is his legacy – I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.