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Adlestrop / Edward Thomas

Kirsty and I were travelling back from Holy Isle, crossing Scotland from Glasgow to Edinburgh on the train. We were talking poems. And we stopped in a siding, alive with ox-eyed daisies and willow-herb. And I remembered this beautiful poem from Edward Thomas who wrote everything he is remembered for in just three years before being killed in the battle of Arras, 1917.

The mystery and magic expansion of the last stanza is reminiscent of something that can happen when we meditate on sound. Suddenly the world opens up, further and further. And yet this moment of Edwardian England becomes deeper and deeper.

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.

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