The Station at Aston Rowant

Vale of Oxford

Based on a lyrical passage in The Oxford, Gloucester and Milford Haven Road, by Charles G Harper. Harper’s entire oeuvre of “Road” books has long been out of print, but no travel writer I know paints a broader and more colourful picture of Edwardian England. The places described are also part of the composite of places I have come to view as home.

A shunter looms, beset by ferns
Stirs the hem of High Wood’s cloak
Half-swallowed by its panting smoke
In tow, three trucks of clanking churns
At Aston Rowant, a minute’s pause
From unseen hide a pheasant rasps
The station-lodge in hearth light basks
The station-master stays indoors

He sits alone, his dull day done
In ticket office and signal box
A pipe he clasps and idly plots
His transfer up to Marylebone
The train sets off, the fallows browse
Once more, as sunset dims the vale
And throws a last wink on the rails
These rails they laid for Lewknor cows


© Joe Slater 2024