Edward Thomas

Adlestrop


Gone, Gone Again


Haymaking


House and Man



  Adlestrop

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. Source: Poems, 1917.

  Gone, Gone Again

Gone, gone again, May, June, July, And August gone, Again gone by, Not memorable Save that I saw them go, As past the empty quays The rivers flow. And now again, In the harvest rain, The Blenheim oranges Fall grubby from the trees, As when I was young— And when the lost one was here— And when the war began To turn young men to dung. Look at the old house, Outmoded, dignified, Dark and untenanted, With grass growing instead Of the footsteps of life, The friendliness, the strife; In its beds have lain Youth, love, age, and pain: I am something like that; Only I am not dead, Still breathing and interested In the house that is not dark:— I am something like that: Not one pane to reflect the sun, For the schoolboys to throw at— They have broken every one. Source: Poems, 1917.

  Haymaking

Aftear night’s thunder far away had rolled The fiery day had a kernel sweet of cold, And in the perfect blue the clouds uncurled, Like the first gods before they made the world And misery, swimming the stormless sea In beauty and in divine gaiety. The smooth white empty road was lightly strewn With leaves—the holly’s Autumn falls in June— And fir cones standing stiff up in the heat. The mill-foot water tumbled white and lit With tossing crystals, happier than any crowd Of children pouring out of school aloud. And in the little thickets where a sleeper For ever might lie lost, the nettle-creeper And garden warbler sang unceasingly; While over them shrill shrieked in his fierce glee The swift with wings and tail as sharp and narrow As if the bow had flown off with the arrow. Only the scent of woodbine and hay new-mown Travelled the road. In the field sloping down, Park-like, to where its willows showed the brook, Haymakers rested. The tosser lay forsook Out in the sun; and the long waggon stood Without its team, it seemed it never would Move from the shadow of that single yew. The team, as still, until their task was due, Beside the labourers enjoyed the shade That three squat oaks mid-field together made Upon a circle of grass and weed uncut, And on the hollow, once a chalk-pit, but Now brimmed with nut and elder-flower so clean. The men leaned on their rakes, about to begin, But still. And all were silent. All was old, This morning time, with a great age untold, Older than Clare and Cobbett, Morland and Crome, Than, at the field’s far edge, the farmer’s home, A white house crouched at the foot of a great tree. Under the heavens that know not what years be The men, the beasts, the trees, the implements Uttered even what they will in times far hence— All of us gone out of the reach of change— Immortal in a picture of an old grange. Source: Poems, 1917.

  House and Man

One hour: as dim he and his house now look As a reflection in a rippling brook, While I remember him; but first, his house. Empty it sounded. It was dark with forest boughs That brushed the walls and made the mossy tiles Part of the squirrels’ track. In all those miles Of forest silence and forest murmur, only One house—“Lonely!” he said, “I wish it were lonely”— Which the trees looked upon from every side, And that was his. He waved good-bye to hide A sigh that he converted to a laugh. He seemed to hang rather than stand there, half Ghost-like, half like a beggar’s rag, clean wrung And useless on the brier where it has hung Long years a-washing by sun and wind and rain. But why I call back man and house again Is that now on a beech-tree’s tip I see As then I saw—I at the gate, and he In the house darkness,—a magpie veering about, A magpie like a weathercock in doubt.
Source: Last Poems, 1918.

Edward Thomas

 (°1878, London – †1917, Arras)


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© Gaston D'Haese: 17-01-2016.
Update: 21-12-2015.