Subject: A lovely poem called ‘Adlestrop’
From: Alex Kemp
Date: Sun, 02 May 2010 02:34:02 +0100
To: Micaela Kemp, Liisa Kemp, Davin Kemp

This is a poem by a chap called “Edward Thomas”. I think it best if it is read out loud, a little slowly, and perhaps with pauses here & there.


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.

Mr Thomas took a journey on a train (a steam train, of course)) shortly before the start of the First World War. In 1917 – a couple of years later – whilst fighting for the British Army in France, he wrote the poem above. A few weeks later he was dead, dying from the effects of a blast during the Battle of Arras. He would have been half as old as your mum & dad when he died.

Alex Kemp