Sunday Night Journal, June 24, 2018
Sunday Night Journal, July 1, 2018

52 Poems, Week 26: Adlestrop (Edward Thomas)

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.

*

[Editor's note: it has been pointed out to me that if there is no intervening discussion between the poem and the byline at the end of these posts, it looks like at a glance like the person who contributed it wrote it. Not so.]

—Paul has been reading the blog since 2008, when Janet drew his attention to a discussion about Brideshead Revisited. He currently trains translators in Brussels.

Comments

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I read a couple books of Thomas's prose nature writing before I ever tried his poetry. For some reason I find the rhythm of his poems challenging to grasp at times, but I like his imagery a lot. (His prose, by the way, is very poetic.) He was friends with Frost, who was the one who suggested he try his hand at poetry. And "The Road Not Taken" is based on Thomas's indecisiveness!

Very interesting!

It's a beautiful image and makes me want to go someplace on a train.

AMDG

The train-ness is what makes it so evocative. If he'd just been sitting under a tree or something it wouldn't have been as strong.

I didn't know that about Frost and Thomas. Interesting indeed. Actually I know almost nothing about Thomas but he's clearly worth getting better acquainted with.

What a glorious poem. How have I lived this long and not seen it before?

A rather sad piece on his friendship with Frost here.

Thanks. I'll have to wait a day or so before I can read it, though. Very busy.

How exactly is that "mistier/Gloucestershire" rhyme supposed to sound? I thought it was "Glostersheer" which I guess is close.

I think it's probably Glostersher. I have a friend who lives in Wiltshire and he pronounces it 'Wiltsher.'

I remember reading that "Adlestrop" has become a nationally symbolic poem for England related to WWI, given its "summer before the war" reflection and the fact that Thomas was one of the war's victims.

Oh yeah, of course: glostershuhr, mistiuhr.

Yes, the implied contrast with the speed and noise of an express train is what gives the poem the quality of an epiphany. I don't really have anything to say about it except "Here, read this!"

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