Tuesday 24 June 2014


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.

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