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Adlestrop -- Edward Thomas

       
(Poem #1192) 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.
-- Edward Thomas
Adlestrop is a village in the Cotswolds, lying just off the road between two
equally charmingly-named towns - Chipping Norton and Stow-on-the-Wold. Its
claim to fame, apart from today's poem of course, is that Jane Austen was
often a guest at the Rectory (her uncle was the rector), and Adlestrop Park
may have been the setting for Mansfield Park.

As for the poem... it's a little gem. It doesn't attempt too much (always a
good thing, unless you're Milton), but what it sets out to do it does
perfectly: it captures place and season to a nicety. Especially refreshing,
given the weather we've been having lately.

thomas.

[Links]

Ah, the wonders of the internet: http://www.adlestrop.org.uk/

Edward Thomas:
Poem #1032, Words
Poem #1174, No One So Much As You

Places:
Poem #3, Inversnaid  -- Gerard Manley Hopkins
Poem #5, Chicago  -- Carl Sandburg
Poem #60, Byzantium  -- William Butler Yeats
Poem #128, London, 1802  -- William Wordsworth
Poem #235, Pennsylvania  -- Carl Sandburg
Poem #361, Cologne  -- Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Poem #1021, Matsushima -- Matsuo Basho

[Afterword]

The Scrabble player in me would like to point out that ADLESTROP is a
fertile source of 8-letter words: DROPLETS PETROSAL POLESTAR PROLATES
ADOPTERS ASPORTED PASTORED READOPTS PORTALED PROLATED LEOPARDS TADPOLES
DELATORS LEOTARDS LODESTAR. So now you know.

42 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

vikram doctor said...

A slight side issue. Couldn't one describe Adlestrop
as a good modern example of the pastoral? And what
would other examples of the modern pastoral be in
prose or poetry? I recently read an article on
aldaily.com which commented in passing that the
traditional role of the pastoral was now being played
by the food book.

Not just a bare collection of recipes of course, but
all those Elzabeth David-M.F.K.Fisher take offs which
blend recipes, with history, autobiography and
discussion on cooking techniques. Many of them include
major discussions of the place they are in, becoming
with some like A Year In Provence and Bella Tuscany
books as much about places as about the food you get
there.

Does poetry still have a role in pastorals when Ruth
Reichl and Peter Mayle have taken over?

Vikram

ruth said...

I love this evocative poem, and was delighted to receive it having not read it for a few years. I once read an enjoyable parody called "Not Addlestrop" but can't find it now. Has anyone else find it or have across it?

mlynd said...

Hwere are two closely related versions, both by Suart Butler:

Adlestrop Part 1

Yes, I remember Adlestrop -
The name, because in 1966
The station name board was offered
Unwontedly. To Swindon, June the 6th.

The dream wished. Someone cleared his throat.
No-one had heard of Adlestrop
In the Swindon Rail Museum.
England won the World Cup.

And Doctor Beeching cut his swathe
Through meadowsweet, and haycocks dry,
No whit less still and lonely fair
Than Wembley Towers in the sky.

And for that minute it was all over.
Edward Thomas killed at Arras
And again at Swindon some 50 years later.
But Geoff Hurst scored. That might last.

Adlestrop Part 2

Yes, I remember Adlestrop -
The name, because it was 1966 when
The station name board was offered
Unwontedly. To Oxford, after Swindon.

The dream wished. Someone cleaned the hall.
The sign-board saying Adlestrop
Was too big for the Art School wall.
And so it was chopped up.

And in the early 70's
Caretakers burned the wood so dry,
The smoke no less still and lonely fair
Than route one football in the sky.

And for that minute a name-plate smoked
Close by and around mistier,
Farther and farther, a poem burned
Of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire.

Both as evocative as the original in their own way, particularly if you are english and can remember 1966.

Martin DeMello said...

"And for that minute a name-plate smoked
Close by and around mistier,
Farther and farther, a poem burned
Of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire."

That made me shiver - it is, indeed, fully as evocative as the original even
without having been anywhere near England (or even anywhere near being born) in
1966. These poems reveal a lacuna in the language - they deserve neither the
flippant connotations of 'parody' nor the mechanical ones of 'pastiche', yet to
simply call them 'responses' to the original misses the fact that they follow
its structure.

jeffrey brooks said...

I love this little poem, but was surprised to discover recently that it is based on an actual event (non-event?) in June or July 1914.Thomas noted the halt and the micro-occurences in his field diary. I wonder if anyone keeps a field diary now?

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Anonymous said...

If you like the poem you should check out Phillip Cooke's setting of the work. Just google it and have a listen. It is beautiful.

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