Adlestrop, chicory, Edward Thomas, Evenlode, Gloucestershire, Jane Austen, Napoleonic Wars, Syrian refugees, wistaria
Photo by Candia Dixon-Stuart
The Post Office is closed; a flyer pokes
out of a letter-box; thin rivulet
trickles down a bridleway, aiming for
the Evenlode. A profusion of blue
chicory shivers in the breeze. The church,
sanctified by its topiary cross –
reminiscent of Jane Austen’s necklet
which she wore as she left the rectory
on merciful missions to village poor –
stood firm during Napoleonic Wars.
Its roof vault is as azure as that sky
the poet contemplated on his brief halt,
when his depression lifted on hearing
birdsong, which trilled above the hiss of steam.
From trenches, could he see that cloudless square?
When someone failed to set the station clock,
did Time itself revolt at what would come?
Could we also be on the brink of war?
Yet pale Wisteria seems to conquer
fear and heraldic tulips blazon hope.
A yellow poster in the bus shelter
promises that all money raised
from a talk on Edward Thomas will fund
Syrian refugees – will help those ‘wontedly,‘
or wantonly, driven out of their homes.
Who will attend? Some wealthy weekenders?
Thomas never actually made it here,
although his spirit is ubiquitous.
Pervasive silence invites us to pause,
in the name of Poetry and Beauty,
before all clocks are permanently stopped
and there are no more birds in Gloucestershire.