A cultural interlude

Whilst we are slaving away at the ESNG show today, I present a cultural interlude (be grateful – you get precious little culture on this blog).

Phil sent me this poem.  He didn’t know to whom the verse is attributable, so apologies for not adding the author.

The End of The Line

The line has gone,
They’ve closed it down,
The gleaming rails have turned to brown,
The station’s closed, deserted, bare,
Decay and rubble everywhere.
Boarded windows, broken glass,
Platform garden choked with grass
And weeds (no prizes now).  An air
Of desolation and despair,
No busy, bustling, friendly life
( A single please, But how’s the wife?)
No chocolate in the slot machine
( One doubts if there has ever been )
No 4 – 6 – 2 ‘s, no steam, no smoke.
No slamming doors.  No busy folk
To spill from 1st’s and 3rd’s.  No greetings,
No waved farewells or lover’s meetings.
At night no distant whistle blows,
No red or green from oil lamps glows,
No twinkle from the signal box
To say she’s passed old Albert Fox
At Copse Hill Junction down the line
A minute late but doing fine
No down. No up, No fast, No slow,
The 10 – 15 went years ago.

Reading this took me back to secondary school days (must be getting old to remember this).  I recall English classes in my early years, where we had to learn and recite a poem.  Naturally, I combined my non-existent interest in poetry with a very real interest in railways and also in natural history and bird watching (once an anorak, always an anorak – really I just wanted a list to tick things off on).  So I learnt Adlestrop, by Edward Thomas.

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.

Reading this is still special for me.  It invokes both train travel and the English countryside in my childhood and perhaps even before that.   That fount of all knowledge Wikipedia tells me that:

This small Gloucestershire village deep in the heart of the Cotswolds is renowned for its surrounding countryside and fine walks. Situated off the main A436 road between Stow-on-the-Wold and “The Greedy Goose” near Salford, Oxfordshire, it is an isolated community, with the village post office near the church being the main source of provisions and communication.

And….

Adlestrop was immortalised by Edward Thomas’s poem “Adlestrop” which was first published in 1917.  The poem describes an uneventful journey that Thomas took on 24 June 1914 on the Oxford to Worcester express; the train made an unscheduled stop at Adlestrop railway station. He did not alight from the train, but describes a moment of calm pause in which he hears “all the birds of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire”. The station closed in 1966; however, the village bus shelter contains the station sign and a bench that was originally on the platform. A plaque on the bench quotes Thomas’s poem.

I still can’t fault the poem, even if it is overtly Great Western!  Perhaps I might include the occasional cultural moment in coming posts…..

About snitchthebudgie

Secretary of the East Surrey N Gauge railway club
This entry was posted in ESNG, Inspiration, Out and about, Weird and wonderful and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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