Cricket at Adlestrop

Following on from the “Bathtime Reading” of my last post, I am now in danger of giving the impression that I spend most of my time luxuriating in a warm bath; but the bathtime theme of my poem “Cricket at Adlestrop” is purely coincidental.

Edward Thomas’s poem “Adlestrop” invariably features in listings of the most popular English poems.  It is a pastoral vision of the countryside and, simultaneously, a moment in time, captured with perfect clarity.  One can see the steam-train, idling at the “bare platform”; hear the birds singing.  An inbuilt feeling of nostalgia is deepened by our knowledge that Thomas was killed at Arras in 1917.  My pastiche is meant as a humorous, oblique tribute.  The world it hints at is that of a multi-ethnic modern city; far away from the rural railway station of the original.

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.  Some one 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 around him, mistier,
farther and farther, all the birds
of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire.

And my version:

Cricket at Adlestrop:

 

Yes, I remember the result.
It was the hottest day
of the year.  I sweltered
in a hot bath – illogically.

The radio crackled.  The soap
slipped through my hands
into foam-filled water
while I changed wavebands.

What I heard
was Bangladesh – only the name
of the winning team.  Australia,
incredibly, had lost the game.

And for that minute a car horn blared
close by, then a louder
claxon, and another.  All the cars
of all the Bangladeshis of Peterborough.

 

 

 

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2 Comments

Filed under Poetry

2 responses to “Cricket at Adlestrop

  1. I like the poetry you write and read, I am new to the world of poetry so I will have a look for Edward Thomas, that was excellent .

  2. Thanks, Philip. I’m also following your blog with interest!

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