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Adlestrop 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.

--

I love this poem, for me it is number one. The best poem ever.

I first studied it at school. Edward Thomas became a huge influence on me and my own writing. Many take this poem at face value, as yes, it is a beautiful poem. But Edward was known as a war poet. And at school we were asked to question: "why was the platform empty? why was the fair still and lonely? why were the haycocks dry? in-fact, where the hell is everybody?"

Well, back in WW1 they would send entire villages off to war. And often the whole village would make up a battalion. It is possible that he was suggesting everyone had gone to war and been wiped out.

Of course, we don't know, but I liked the idea of this double meaning and strive for this in my own works. I heard a programme about the poem on radio 4 many years ago and no-one even slightly mentioned that there maybe more to this poem than a lovely look at the countryside. This bugged me for many years.

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