The best poems come from paying attention to the world, when the raw experience emerges in as few words as necessary to make it vividly real. That’s certainly true of Adlestrop, by Edward Thomas, where the moment a train stops at a country station is caught as in a raindrop or a bubble of dew. I was going to say, “caught in amber,” but that implies the thing inside is dead. Here, all the birds of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire are still singing on an eternal June day in 1914. Not, alas, Edward Thomas. He died in 1917, during that bout of international insanity history calls the Great War.
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
A haunting poem, and the basis for this haunting short film.