Thursday, 26 November 2015

My Adlestrop Moment

I was travelling in Somerset today and stopped at traffic lights on the edge of Taunton. Through the car window and above the sound of idling vehicles I heard a bird singing. A tiny robin sat in a silver birch caught in song. 

I wound down the window and listened to a voice pure and true. The lights changed and the traffic moved on. 

Edward Thomas wrote this poem so wonderful and poignant; I cannot begin to do justice to the layers of meaning. For me, this was a magical moment where I held my breath and knew kinship with a traveller a hundred years ago who listened to a blackbird while waiting for his train to move on.

This article may help with the context:

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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