Sunday, November 15, 2009

Adlestrop


We listened to this tonight.  How splendid.  I can't consciously recall reading it before, but must have, if it's in lots of anthologies.  It felt familiar.

It's reminiscent of another poem I love, Graves Here Live Your Life Out!:


Window-gazing, at one time or another
In the course of travel, you must have startled at
Some coign of true felicity. “Stay!” it beckoned,
“Here live your life out!” If you were simple-hearted
The village rose, perhaps, from a broad stream
Lined with alders and gold-flowering flags—
Hills, mills, hay-fields, orchards—and, plain to see,
The very house behind its mulberry-tree
Stood, by a miracle, untenanted!


Alas, you could not alight, found yourself jolted
Viciously on. Public conveyances
Are not amenable to casual halts
Except in sternly drawn emergencies—
Bandits, floods, landslides, earthquakes or the like—
Nor could you muster resolution enough
To shout “This is emergency, let me out!”
Rushing to grasp their brakes; so the whole scene
Withdrew forever. Once at the terminus
(As your internal mentor will have told you),
It would have been pure folly to engage
A private car, drive back, sue for possession.
Too far, too late:
Already bolder tenants were at the gate.

Or maybe not reminiscent.  Graves poem feels like it's in Mallorca, whereas Thomas is clearly writing of southern England; (I had a similar experience, the quiet country station, and the singing blackbird, in Micheldever).   There's also an echo in Larkin's Whitsun Weddings, "all cushions hot".