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,
May, June, July,
And August gone,
Again gone by,
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,
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.
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.
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.
(°1878, London – 1917, Arras)