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 (1878 – 1917)
It was as though the train stopped on purpose so that all the passengers good savour an early summer day when the world itself seemed to stop and all was peace. The joy of nature showing contentment voiced in the beautiful birdsong of the English countryside. It is moments like these, unexpected moments of joy, that become so meaningful when we reflect back. I think we all have such images that retain lifelong pleasure on recall.
It is a very simple four stanza poem with rhyming in the second and fourth lines. The short factual statements are all that is needed in defining the essence of the moment as experienced by the traveller as he looks out the window. The text ‘And for that minute’ is pivotal in holding the image in the eye of the reader.
And of course many will relate to the experience of a train stopping before reaching the destination but whether thay will be relaxed about it is another matter.
Edward Thomas will be remembered by this poem more than any other just as Adlestrop will always be associated with this poem. An example of how a poem can define a specific place due to experience. Adlestrop was axed in the Beeching cull of railway stations in the Sixties as were many other sleepy country stations. However the railway sign displaying the name is still very much in evidence.
And from Wikipedia … it was due to Edward Thomas that Robert Frost came to write his famous poem ‘The Road Not Taken’ …
The American poet Robert Frost, who was living in England at the time, in particular encouraged Thomas (then more famous as a critic) to write poetry, and their friendship was so close that the two planned to reside side by side in the United States. Frost’s most famous poem, “The Road Not Taken”, was inspired by walks with Thomas and Thomas’s indecisiveness about which route to take.
Tragically Edward Thomas was killed soon after he arrived in France during the first World War.