Adlestrop by Edward Thomas

Reading time: 2 minutes

This was my favourite poem when I was young. I studied it at school. Edward Thomas is often sighted as a war poet but most of his poems are about the countryside. It seems his claim to fame was to go and fight when he didn't need to (he was over fighting age at the time) and then coping a bullet.

Many say the poem is about the countryside but my English teacher said there was hidden meaning. They used to send whole villages of men off to fight as it was a way to invoke comradeship. But then if a battalion was wiped out, so too was a whole village. So, why were the haycocks dry and the fair still an lonely? Who knows. There might be hidden meaning, there might not.

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.