Edward Thomas

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

Adlestrop - Poem by Edward Thomas

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.

Comments about Adlestrop by Edward Thomas

  • (6/3/2018 7:25:00 AM)

    I do not know English well, but i like this poet, this poem... His poems remind some poems our poet Андрей Тарковский... (Report)Reply

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  • (4/1/2018 1:21:00 PM)

    I have loved this poem since I read it in a school anthology in the 1940s. We did not study it - we were lucky enough to be able to explore poetry for ourselves. I knew that hush when the local trains stopped on a quiet country village station, and I knew those villages. Now I have been to Adelstrop. It is much the same, equally quiet, but the station has gone. (Report)Reply

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  • (2/8/2018 3:40:00 PM)

    Visited Adlestrop today because of Thomas’s poem. On a clear, chill February day the birds song was very evident in that quiet hamlet, although the trains have been silenced. Evocative of a bygone time when Edward Thomas saw the name and penned those memorable words. (Report)Reply

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  • (1/17/2018 1:42:00 PM)

    A simple poem with no thought of intellectualising it other than face value.persnalising it from internal feelings have made it iconic.I am sure there was no other intent by the author other than simplicity written off the cuff.Never the less evocative and beautiful. (Report)Reply

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  • (4/6/2017 11:08:00 AM)

    Adletrop. I recently drove through the village and was saddened to see that all that remained of the picture Edward Thomas painted was a sign by a bus stop. But the poem really recalls a spiritual experience. You cannot physicallyl hear all the birds of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire. But if you suddenly soar into a different consciousness, that is your experience - beyond time, beyond this immediate physical space. It is probably an experience that MANY people have and dismiss it without much thought, but it is a liberation from the petty little ego consciousness into something vaster and beautiful. (Report)Reply

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  • (3/18/2017 4:42:00 PM)

    It all happened - it's in his diary (24/6/14) and he simply made a poem later, following his mentor Frost's advice to make verse from his prose. He was on his way to see Frost in Ledbury, and his wife Helen was in the carriage too - unmentioned. The train stopped 'unwontedly' because it was an 'express', not supposed to stop at what was the Mitford family's private station. Adlestrop is the perfect example of a poem showing how simple, ordinary things, gathered in words, show directly the strange beauty of life. LiTTLe MACHiNe www.little-machine.com have set this to music - every time we play it live the whole audience sings the last verse with us. This poem expresses what the ordinary soldiers thought they were fighting for - which is why LiTTLe MACHiNe recorded it on their album of WW1 poems ' A Blackbird Sang'. Incidentally Adlestrop is the poet laureate's favourite poem.. (Report)Reply

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  • (6/16/2016 2:43:00 PM)

    I am sitting in Adlestrop on an afternoon of heat in June - 2016,102 years after the poem was written. (102 years less 8 days.)

    There is a beautiful bright blue sky with still white cloudlets, lonely and fair, and remarkably, a blackbird has just started singing only yards away, from the slate roof of a cottage, with a chorus of birds in the distance behind him.

    Of the station, not even a bare platform is visible, just the name, the railway sign, ADLESTROP, now set rather nicely with an old bench into an enclosed wooden bus shelter. The railway line was a casualty of the cuts inflicted by the infamous Dr Beeching in 1966.

    The creamy stone cottages of the village, its history known back to around 750AD, are glowing in the afternoon sun. The cottage gardens are full of traditional flowers, and climbing roses twine around doorways. In the hedgerows there are willow-herb, grass and meadowsweet, though it's far too early for haycocks (that always struck me as incongruous for June) .

    I miss the hiss of steam. But elsewhere, little has changed.

    Anyone who's ever been here, even for an unwonted minute, could easily dream of it for ever after.

    (8/7/2017 6:43:00 PM)

    The railway line was not a casualty of the cuts inflicted by the infamous Dr Beeching in 1966 The railway line is still open and thriving. Adlestrop station was closed in 1966 but not by Dr Beeching - he left British Railways in 1965!

    (8/9/2016 2:47:00 PM)

    Thank you for this lovely postcard from Adlestrop.

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  • (10/8/2015 3:25:00 PM)

    I knew this poem from school and later as a serving officer in the first gulf war it hit me with all its embedded meaning, a home far away, untouchable peace and the pain of it not being mine anymore. When and where Thomas wrote this almost narcotic dream of innocence says to me it is unsentimental and more a war poem than i first understood it to be. (Report)Reply

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  • Madathil Rajendran Nair (3/29/2015 12:25:00 PM)

    From the emptiness of Adlestrop to the song of the solitary blackbird and then to the avian cacophony of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire - a beautiful poem like the mist in that afternoon. (Report)Reply

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  • (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

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  • (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

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  • Michael Mason (11/11/2012 3:47:00 PM)

    A small masterpiece. Only just discovered this great poet (Report)Reply

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  • (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

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  • (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.

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  • (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

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  • (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.

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  • (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

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  • 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

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  • (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

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Read poems about / on: june, lonely, remember, sky

Poem Submitted: Tuesday, December 31, 2002

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