Here is a 'near impossible task' indeed - to identify 'the nation's favourite poem about the countryside'.
Hmmm. The National Trust might be a little more honest about it - rather it's an attempt to get National Trust-supporting types to make a choice from a highly contentious shortlist drawn up by a poet with an agenda, in order to draw attention to the National Trust and its properties. It might indeed 'raise awareness of poems about the countryside' - along with the blood pressure of many poetry lovers - but it certainly won't identify the 'nation's favourite'; that would be to 'play the same old records', so all the likeliest candidates have been omitted from the list. No Shakespeare or Betjeman indeed - or Larkin come to that - no Milton or Herrick or Cowper, and none of the big-hitting Romantics; but what is truly inexcusable is that in a list that includes John Davidson and Ivor Gurney, there's nothing of the greatest 20th-century poet of the English countryside, Edward Thomas - not even this, which would probably (and deservedly) win in an open contest...
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.