Edward Thomas, Adlestrop and trees
Yes, we all remember 'Adlestrop' - the one Edward Thomas poem everybody knows and possibly the nation's favourite poem still, in spite of 'Stop all the clocks' and Frost's 'Stopping By Woods.....'
There are still trees - those willows and in imagination the trees beyond, where 'all the birds of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire' are singing.
Adlestrop is the archetypal "Edward Thomas poem" , the poetry that has elicited tributes from other poets: Elected Friends:Poems for and about Edward Thomas', Anne Harvey 1991 and recently 'Branchlines', edited by Guy Cuthbertson and Lucy Newlyn. Anne Harvey has done marvellous work on the Adlestrop story.
(Anne's 'Adlestop Revisited' (Henry Sutton, 1999) . This year on the 23th June she and the Friends of The Dymock Poets organised a celebration. of the event with a train halting briefly and Robert Hardy reading the poem.
In brief, Edward and Helen, on the 23rd June attended the Russian - Diaghelev - ballet in London. Next day they set off for Ledbury by train to organise the summer lodgings near the Frosts' in Leddington, the Oldfield Farm lodging where the first section of my novel is set. Later he recollected it:
Adlestrop is a pretty Cotswold village in Gloucestershire, near Stow-on-the -Wold and Chipping Norton. The Edward Thomas Fellowship has circulated information about the village's Open Day, June 16th. The information and a link is below.
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'm afraid this is past-