Poem number 3 in the most requested poems to be read on the BBC’s Poetry Please is Adlestrop by Edward Thomas. Thomas enlisted in the Artists Rifles in July 1915, despite being a mature married man who could have avoided enlisting, in part after reading Frost’s The Road Not Taken. He was killed in action soon after he arrived in France at Arras on Easter Monday, 9 April 1917. Although he survived the actual battle, he was killed by the concussive blast wave of one of the last shells fired as he stood to light his pipe. Who says words will never hurt me? Plenty of words of comfort, solace and inspiration available at The Glass Key bookshop in Montmorillon.
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.