Railway poetry

This forum is for all off-topic (ie. non-railway) discussion.

Moderators: 52D, Rlangham, Atlantic 3279, Blink Bonny, Saint Johnstoun, richard, Tom F

Post Reply
User avatar
52D
LNER A4 4-6-2 'Streak'
Posts: 3968
Joined: Sun Jun 03, 2007 3:50 pm
Location: Reallocated now between the Lickey and GWR
Contact:

Railway poetry

Post by 52D » Tue Jan 05, 2010 11:09 pm

A fine but oft neglected art is poetry, let us forum members bring forth some of thier favourite lines.
I will kick off with the one that i think is a classic albeit from the wrong side of the Country
Night mail by Auden it made a very good BTC film as well it seems to evoke everything railway.
This is the night mail crossing the border bringing the Cheque and the postal order the very rhythm of it suggests a jubilee on a postal train.
Who can suggest some LNER inspired verse or are there too many Philistines among us.
Hi interested in the area served by 52D. also researching colliery wagonways from same area.

User avatar
richard
LNER A4 4-6-2 'Streak'
Posts: 3272
Joined: Thu Sep 01, 2005 5:11 pm
Location: Wichita Falls, Texas
Contact:

Re: Railway poetry

Post by richard » Wed Jan 06, 2010 4:14 am

I'm not Scottish so I can't claim any ironic appreciation of it, but this one is more LNER (well NBR):

The Tay Bridge Disaster

Beautiful Railway Bridge of the Silv'ry Tay!
Alas! I am very sorry to say
That ninety lives have been taken away
On the last Sabbath day of 1879,
Which will be remember'd for a very long time.

'Twas about seven o'clock at night,
And the wind it blew with all its might,
And the rain came pouring down,
And the dark clods seem'd to frown,
And the Demon of the air seem'd to say-
"I'll blow down the Bridge of Tay."

When the train left Edinburgh
The passengers' hearts were light and felt no sorrow,
But Boreas blew a terrific gale,
Which made their hearts for to quail,
And many of the passengers with fear did say-
"I hope God will send us safe across the Bridge of Tay."

But when the train came near to Wormit Bay,
Boreas he did loud and angry bray,
And shook the central girders of the Bridge of Tay
On the last Sabbath day of 1879,
Which will be remember'd for a very long time.

So the train sped on with all its might,
And Bonnie Dundee soon hove in sught,
And the passengers' hearts felt light,
Thinking they would enjoy themselves on the New Year,
With their friends at home they lov'd most dear,
And wish them all a happy New Year.

So the train mov'd slowly along the Bridge of Tay,
Until it was about midway,
Then the central girders with a crash gave way,
And down went the train and passengers into the Tay!
The Storm Fiend did loudly bray,
Because ninety lives had been taken away,
On the last Sabbath day of 1879,
Which will be remember'd for a very long time.

As soon as the catastrophe came to be known
The alarm from mouth to mouth was blown,
And the cry rang out all o'er the town,
Good Heavens! the Tay Bridge is blown down,
And a passenger train from Edinburgh,
Which fill'd all the peoples hearts with sorrow,
And made them for to turn pale,
Because none of the passengers were sav'd to tell the tale
How the disaster happen'd on the last Sabbath day of 1879,
Which will be remember'd for a very long time.

It must have been an awful sight,
To witness in the dusky moonlight,
While the Storm Fiend did laugh, and angry did bray,
Along the Railway Bridge of the Silv'ry Tay,
Oh! ill-fated Bridge of thSilv'ry Tay,
I must now conclude my lay
By telling the world fearlessly without the least dismay,
That your central girders would not have given way,
At least many sensible men do say,
Had they been supported on each side with buttresses,
At least many sensible men confesses,
For the stronger we our houses do build,
The less chance we have of being killed.
Richard Marsden
LNER Encyclopedia

User avatar
redtoon1892
GNR C1 4-4-2
Posts: 736
Joined: Fri Jan 25, 2008 5:41 pm
Location: GATESHEAD
Contact:

Re: Railway poetry

Post by redtoon1892 » Wed Jan 06, 2010 4:38 am

Lament for the Midnight Train
By Maryann Corbett
Night train noises, muffled and low,
nights when the Northern Limited left.
Midnights, we'd hear its strange chord blow, a distant dissonance, treble-cleft.
Languid in summer, dulled in snow,
it spoke to me calmly: Trust and rest.
The night world works on a steady clock.
The barges ride on the river's crest;
at port in Duluth, the grain ships dock, and a streetlamp lit at the end of the block looks in at the window's blind from the west—

I never learned: Did the schedule skew
departure times into daylight hours,
or did neighbors grouse, as neighbors do, that living close to a loud sound sours tempers and lives? I never knew, but it's not there now, though we still see track.
The freeway sound and the freeway grime
color the nights. The snow turns black,
and the block club frets over rising crime, and a time I thought was a peaceful time, though I wish for it fiercely, will not come back.

User avatar
Flamingo
GCR O4 2-8-0 'ROD'
Posts: 565
Joined: Tue Feb 12, 2008 1:23 pm
Location: Hampshire

Re: Railway poetry

Post by Flamingo » Wed Jan 06, 2010 10:37 am

Yes, Night Mail and McGonagall's classic Tay Bridge are two of the best.
Sorry it's not from the LNER but this one by Edward Thomas is my favourite:

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. All I saw
Was Adlestrop. Only the name.

And willow, willow-herb and rye,
And meadowsweet, and haycocks dry,
No whit less still and lonely fair
Than the high cloudlets in the sky.

And in that moment a blackbird sang
Close by, and round him, mistier,
Farther and farther, all the birds
Of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire.
Last edited by Flamingo on Sat Jan 09, 2010 5:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
52D
LNER A4 4-6-2 'Streak'
Posts: 3968
Joined: Sun Jun 03, 2007 3:50 pm
Location: Reallocated now between the Lickey and GWR
Contact:

Re: Railway poetry

Post by 52D » Wed Jan 06, 2010 12:34 pm

Adlestrop was recently featured in Railway Bylines. We also must not forget Robert Louis Stevenson's From a railway carriage often the childs first exposure to Railways and poetry.
Hi interested in the area served by 52D. also researching colliery wagonways from same area.

Bryan
LNER A4 4-6-2 'Streak'
Posts: 2221
Joined: Sat Jan 06, 2007 6:48 pm
Location: York

Re: Railway poetry

Post by Bryan » Wed Jan 06, 2010 6:57 pm

Adlestrop in Google will give you this:-

http://www.systemed.plus.com/New_Adlest ... _Atlas.pdf

Still a work in progress, doesn't seem to have progressed much in the last year or so.

User avatar
52D
LNER A4 4-6-2 'Streak'
Posts: 3968
Joined: Sun Jun 03, 2007 3:50 pm
Location: Reallocated now between the Lickey and GWR
Contact:

Re: Railway poetry

Post by 52D » Thu Jan 07, 2010 3:03 pm

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmciuKsBOi0

Night mail by W H Auden music by Benjamin Brittain.
Hi interested in the area served by 52D. also researching colliery wagonways from same area.

User avatar
Bullhead
LNER Thompson B1 4-6-0 'Antelope'
Posts: 633
Joined: Sun Jan 22, 2006 9:40 pm
Location: 52D

Re: Railway poetry

Post by Bullhead » Fri Jan 08, 2010 7:34 am

I've always been fond of this, "The Bridge":

Here, with one leap,
The bridge that spans the cutting ; on its back
The load
Of the main- road,
And under it the railway-track.
Into the plains they sweep,
Into the solitary plains asleep,
The flowing lines, the parallel lines of steel
Fringed with their narrow grass,
Into the plains they pass,
The flowing lines, like arms of mute appeal.
A cry
Prolonged across the earth a call
To the remote horizons and the sky ;
The whole east rushes down them with its light,

And the whole west receives them, with its pall
Of stars and night
The flowing lines, the parallel lines of steel.
And with the fall
Of darkness, see ! the red,
Bright anger of the signal, where it flares
Like a huge eye that stares
On some hid danger in the dark ahead.

A twang of wire unseen
The signal drops ; and now, instead
Of a red eye, a green.

Out of the silence grows
An iron thunder grows, and roars, and sweeps,
Menacing ! The plain
Suddenly leaps,
Startled, from its repose
Alert and listening. Now, from the gloom
Of the soft distance, loom
Three lights and, over them, a brush
Of tawny flame and flying spark
Three pointed lights that rush,
Monstrous, upon the cringing dark.
And nearer, nearer rolls the sound,
Louder the throb and roar of wheels,
The shout of speed, the shriek of steam ;
The sloping bank,
Cut into flashing squares, gives back the clank
And grind of metal, while the ground
Shudders and the bridge reels
As, with a scream,
The train,
A rage of smoke, a laugh of fire,
A lighted anguish of desire,
A dream
Of gold and iron, of sound and flight,
Tumultuous roars across the night.

The train roars past and, with a cry,
Drowned in a flying howl of wind,
Half-stifled in the smoke and blind,
The plain,
Shaken, exultant, unconfined,
Rises, flows on, and follows, and sweeps by,
Shrieking, to lose itself in distance and the sky.


Pretty good, that, I think.
So - did anyone dare tell Stephenson, "It's not Rocket science"?

giner
LNER A3 4-6-2
Posts: 1376
Joined: Wed Feb 27, 2008 5:17 am
Location: Alberta - ex. Stevenage

Re: Railway poetry

Post by giner » Fri Jan 08, 2010 5:06 pm

Very good, that. Do you know who wrote it? It conjures up our prairie scene very well, though long gone are the semaphores and steam.

User avatar
Bullhead
LNER Thompson B1 4-6-0 'Antelope'
Posts: 633
Joined: Sun Jan 22, 2006 9:40 pm
Location: 52D

Re: Railway poetry

Post by Bullhead » Fri Jan 08, 2010 5:32 pm

giner wrote:Very good, that. Do you know who wrote it?
J. Redwood Anderson. He was a teacher in Hull.
So - did anyone dare tell Stephenson, "It's not Rocket science"?

User avatar
Autocar Publicity
NER C7 4-4-2
Posts: 812
Joined: Mon Mar 09, 2009 1:36 pm
Location: Yorkshire
Contact:

Re: Railway poetry

Post by Autocar Publicity » Fri Jan 08, 2010 8:40 pm

On a lighter note, I quite like:

Once, an engine attached to a train,
was afraid of a few drops of rain,
it went into a tunnel,
and squeaked through its funnel,
and never came out again.

User avatar
Bullhead
LNER Thompson B1 4-6-0 'Antelope'
Posts: 633
Joined: Sun Jan 22, 2006 9:40 pm
Location: 52D

Re: Railway poetry

Post by Bullhead » Fri Jan 08, 2010 10:30 pm

I remember being taught this bit of weather-related doggerel by train crew some decades ago:

"During fog and falling snow/Into the bothy we must go"

It seems particularly appropriate at the moment.
So - did anyone dare tell Stephenson, "It's not Rocket science"?

User avatar
Flamingo
GCR O4 2-8-0 'ROD'
Posts: 565
Joined: Tue Feb 12, 2008 1:23 pm
Location: Hampshire

Re: Railway poetry

Post by Flamingo » Sat Jan 09, 2010 3:06 pm

Autocar Publicity wrote:On a lighter note, I quite like:

Once, an engine attached to a train,
was afraid of a few drops of rain,
it went into a tunnel,
and squeaked through its funnel,
and never came out again.
Now then, that sounds like what happened to one of the Rev. Awdry's character engines. Can't remember which one but it had just been repainted and didn't want to get wet.

Either that or you may just have stumbled on the origin of the strategic reserve myth.

52A
LNER V2 2-6-2 'Green Arrow'
Posts: 1066
Joined: Sun Apr 30, 2006 10:50 am

Re: Railway poetry

Post by 52A » Sat Jan 09, 2010 3:12 pm

HURRAH! for the mighty engine,
As he bounds along his track:
Hurrah, for the life that is in him,
And his breath so thick and black.
And hurrah for our fellows, who in their need
Could fashion a thing like him—
With a heart of fire, and a soul of steel,
And a Samson in every limb.

Ho! stand from that narrow path of his,
Lest his gleaming muscles smite,
Like the flaming sword the archangel drew
When Eden lay wrapp'd in night;
For he cares, not he, for a paltry life
As he rushes along to the goal,
It but costs him a shake of his iron limb,
And a shriek from his mighty soul.

Yet I glory to think that I help to keep
His footsteps a little in place,
And he thunders his thanks as he rushes on
In the lightning speed of his race;
And I think that he knows when he looks at me,
That, though made of clay as I stand,
I could make him as weak as a three hours' child
With a paltry twitch of my hand.

But I trust in his strength, and he trusts in me,
Though made but of brittle clay,
While he is bound up in the toughest of steel,
That tires not night or day;
But for ever flashes, and stretches, and strives,
While he shrieks in his smoky glee—
Hurrah for the puppets that, lost in their thoughts,
Could rub the lamp for me!

O that some Roman—when Rome was great—
Some quick, light Greek or two—
Could come from their graves for one half-hour
To see what my fellows can do;
I would take them with me on this world's wild steed,
And give him a little rein;
Then rush with his clanking hoofs through space,
With a wreath of smoke for his mane.


I would say to them as they shook in their fear,
"Now what is your paltry book,
Or the Phidian touch of the chisel's point,
That can make the marble look,
To this monster of ours, that for ages lay
In the depths of the dreaming earth,
Till we brought him out with a cheer and a shout,
And hammer'd him into birth?"

Clank, clank went the hammer in dusty shops,
The forge-flare went to the sky,
While still, like the monster of Frankenstein's,
This great wild being was nigh;
Till at length he rose up in his sinew and strength,
And our fellows could see with pride
Their grimy brows and their bare, slight arms,
In the depths of his glancing side.

Then there rose to their lips a dread question of fear
"Who has in him the nerve to start
In this mass a soul that will shake and roll
A river of life to his heart?"
Then a pigmy by jerks went up his side,
Flung a globe of fire in his breast,
And cities leapt nearer by hundreds of miles
At the first wild snort from his chest.

Then away he rush'd to his mission of toil,
Wherever lay guiding rods,
And the work he could do at each throb of his pulse
Flung a blush on the face of the gods.
And Atlas himself, when he felt his weight,
Bent lower his quaking limb.
Then shook himself free from this earth, and left
The grand old planet to him.

But well can he bear it, this Titan of toil,
When his pathway yields to his tread;
And the vigour within him flares up to its height,
Till the smoke of his breath grows red;
Then he shrieks in delight, as an athlete might,
When he reaches his wild desire,
And from head to heel, through each muscle of steel,
Runs the cunning and clasp of the fire.


Or, see how he tosses aside the night,
And roars in his thirsty wrath,
While his one great eye gleams white with rage
At the darkness that muffles his path;
And lo! as the pent-up flame of his heart
Flashes out from behind its bars,
It gleams like a bolt flung from heaven, and rears
A ladder of light to the stars.

Talk of the sea flung back in its wrath
By a line of unyielding stone,
Or the slender clutch of a thread-like bridge,
That knits two valleys in one!
Talk of your miracle-working wires,
And their world-embracing force,
But himmel! give me the bits of steel
In the mouth of the thunder-horse!

Ay, give me the beat of his fire-fed breast,
And the shake of his giant frame,
And the sinews that work like the shoulders of Jove
When he launches a bolt of flame;
And give me that Lilliput rider of his,
Stout and wiry and grim,
Who can vault on his back as he puffs his pipe,
And whisk the breath from him.

Then hurrah for our mighty engine, boys;
He may roar and fume along
For a hundred years ere a poet arise
To shrine him in worthy song;
Yet if one with the touch of the gods on his lips,
And his heart beating wildly and quick,
Should rush into song at this demon of ours,
Let him sing, too, the shovel and pick.

52A
LNER V2 2-6-2 'Green Arrow'
Posts: 1066
Joined: Sun Apr 30, 2006 10:50 am

Re: Railway poetry

Post by 52A » Sat Jan 09, 2010 3:18 pm

And if your engine will not do,
tie it off and whistle two.

The Guard is a man who rides in a van at the back of a long long train
the Driver up front thinks hes a chump,
the Guard thinks the Drivers the same.

The driver rides on wings of steel
the fireman on wings of flame
But the poor wee guard has no wings at all
but he gets there just the same

Post Reply