Thursday, June 19, 2008
It Was Late June
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.
Only a handful of Edward Thomas's poems were published in his lifetime. He was killed on the first day of the Battle Of Arras, on Easter Monday 1917, aged 39.
I have loved this poem for a long time now - the way it captures that still, special moment in an unexpected stop at an unexpected place in a summertime in England.
They closed Adlestrop railway station in 1966, but they saved the station sign and stuck it in the village bus shelter.
I hope to pop by there someday.
This is from an old cassette I have of RB reading various poems.
Here's to unexpected stops.
Richard Burton - 'Adlestrop' (by Edward Thomas)