One hundred years ago yesterday, on 23 June 1914, the poet Edward Thomas was a passenger on the Oxford to Worcester express which stopped 'unwontedly' at the remote rural station of Adlestrop
He wrote a poem about the moment. We used to have to learn this by heart at school, and why on earth not?
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.
Five days later the Bosnian Serb Gavrilo Princep shot and killed Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife, Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg, in Sarajevo.