Saturday, March 12, 2005

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.

Edward Thomas

The first two verses of this poem sound as if a rather detached accountant -- Prufrock perhaps -- is narrating them, but the next two belong to the pastoral world of the English nature poets. I like the way the poem starts with the silent, static sign in the rail station, then suddenly comes to life before fading out on a chorus of birdsong. It recounts an actual event which Thomas, who was killed at Arras during WW1, jotted down in his Field Notes in 1914.