"Adlestrop" is a poem by Edward Thomas. It is based on a railway journey Thomas took on 24 June 1914, during which his train briefly stopped at the now-closed station in the Gloucestershire village of Adlestrop.
The poem was written, not during or immediately after the 1914 journey, but at Thomas's leisure. He began making notes for it the following January, and created several versions of the poem before it was ready for publication. Since then, the poem has become symbolic of a turning-point in Thomas's literary career, and is used as such in the title of Jean Moorcroft Wilson's 2015 biography of the poet.
Although not, strictly speaking, a war poem, it has become popular in anthologies because of its reference to a peaceful time and place, only a short time before the outbreak of the First World War. Thomas enlisted the following year, and was killed in 1917, just before the poem was due to be printed in his collection Poems, published by Henry Holt and Company. It was published in the New Statesman, three weeks after he died. Thomas's earlier career had mainly been as a writer of prose, his first collection of poems having been published only in 1916. The change in creative direction is often attributed to the influence of Robert Frost.
One hundred years to the day after the original journey, an "Adlestrop Centenary Special" Cotswold Line train was arranged, carrying 200 passengers from Oxford to Moreton-in-Marsh and stopping at Adlestrop in the place where the station formerly stood. Adlestrop village also held a celebration to mark the centenary, with a public reading of the poem by Robert Hardy.
The text of the poem is used on the album Adlestrop by Gilroy Mere, and its mood informs the album - the sounds of trains, birds, and evoking the English summer - which is themed around rural train stations that were closed in the 1960s.
Text of the poem
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.
- William Langley (11 May 2014). "Adlestrop: a lost station, but words that still beguile". The Telegraph. Retrieved 27 August 2016.
- Matthew Hollis (15 August 2011). "100 years on: The making of Edward Thomas's Adlestrop". New Statesman. Retrieved 28 August 2016.
- "Edward Thomas: from Adlestrop to Arras". Bloomsbury Publishing. Retrieved 28 August 2016.
- "Edward Thomas". Poetry Foundation. Retrieved 27 August 2016.
- "Remembering 'Adlestrop', 100 years since". Lancaster University. Retrieved 28 August 2016.
- Robert McCrum (31 May 2015). "Edward Thomas: from Adlestrop to Arras review – the man behind the poet". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 August 2016.
- William Crossley (20 May 2014). "Special train makes track to mark centenary of Edward Thomas's poem Adlestrop". Oxford Mail. Retrieved 27 August 2016.
- "Gilroy Mere - Adlestrop". Clay Pipe Music. Retrieved 4 February 2021.