Adlestrop Poem by Edward Thomas


Rating: 3.5

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.

John Davidson 16 October 2012

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.

30 7 Reply
Eric Jump 25 February 2006

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!

25 11 Reply
Caroline Langdon 08 March 2012

I read out this poem at my brother's funeral on 5 March 2012 as he loved the area and did railway walks there.

28 4 Reply
Michael Mason 11 November 2012

A small masterpiece. Only just discovered this great poet

23 4 Reply
Marlene Dodes-callahan 17 December 2012

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.

22 5 Reply
David Bullimore 28 August 2021

I think some of the Willows are still there by what is now a car park

0 0 Reply
Christine Robbie 16 October 2019

I am now 83 and have just come across the Poem about Adlestrop: I must visit Adlestrop one day, I love the poem.

3 0 Reply
naida 03 June 2018

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

1 2 Reply
Susan Mayall 01 April 2018

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.

1 1 Reply
Rutti Green 08 February 2018

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.

3 2 Reply
Error Success