Thursday, November 24, 2005

Zug Poems

It is a well-known fact that we are train freaks. We have spent the endless hours at IRFCA, like others of our persuasion. We have taken trips that have left Others flabbergasted and flummoxed at our enthusiasm. And, some time back, we said we will attempt a post on railway poetry. And since the days between the posts are turning into trackless wastes, and we are too lazy to actually write something ourselves, we take the slimy way out, and post other peoples works. So, railway poems.

Turns out that the most unlikely people have written poems about the railroad. Knew about Eliot, Heaney, and Stevenson. But never knew that Nash and Dickinson were in the market. You Google and you learn, eh?

I
The Winged Ones
    - Ogden Nash


Nash's cribs are very valid, especially if you've ever taken a train on the US East Coast in a winter snowstorm, when the planes are grounded. You, of course, being train freak, did plan to take the train all along. These other aerodynamic slimeballs that ooze in from Logan or JFK are a bit much.

II
The Railway Train
    - Emily Dickinson


Dickinson lived in Amherst, MA. We were...ah...neighbours, so to speak. In fact she lived very close to the railway line that runs through Amherst. Maybe she saw the Vermonter thunder by, and was inspired.

III
From A Railway Carriage
    - Robert Louis Stevenson


Quintessential railway pome, a must in a railway pome list.

IV
The Railway Children
    - Seamus Heaney


Quite possibly, the best railway poem ever. Even though, strangely enough, there is no mention of trains in the damn thing.

V
Skimbleshanks: The Railway Cat
    - T.S.Eliot


Utterly delightful, hummable, singable, danceable rhyme. The Broadway version is a totally enjoyable experience.

VI
Piggy
    - Anonymous

Piggy on the Railway, picking up stones,
Down came an Engine, and broke Piggy's bones.
"Ah!", said Piggy, "THAT'S NOT FAIR!!",
"Oh," said the Engine Driver, "I don't care!"

' "Ah!" said Piggy '? One suspects Piggy said a lot more than that when Piggy was plastered by a locomotive. This remarkable poem on non-violence and compassion towards our fellow beings is possibly the first railway poem we all learnt. When your education starts off like this, you don't have to seek far to find the reasons for the world being the state it is in!

TAILPIECE: India is a train-crazy country. Are there Indian poems or poems by Indians on trains? Surely, the Seths and the Ezekiels must have tried their hand at this. Wait...remembered a train poem...but will have to wait till the morrow (being Scherezade).

5 comments:

Falstaff said...

Don't forget

a) Williams

http://www.cs.rice.edu/~ssiyer/minstrels/poems/1637.html

b) Spender

http://www.gpaulbishop.com/GPB%20History/GPB%20Archive/Section%20-%203/S.%20Spender/Image%202/image_2.htm

(Scroll down)

c) Larkin

http://plagiarist.com/poetry/?wid=4882

d) Millay

http://www.cs.rice.edu/~ssiyer/minstrels/poems/1064.html

e) Turner

http://eir.library.utoronto.ca/rpo/display/poem3130.html

Ludwig said...

[falstaff] Thanks much. The Millay one is the only one I'd read before, damn I shouldn't have missed that one. There is an Arun Kolatkar one, from "Jejuri", that I must remember to copy and paste here...

Anonymous said...

You might want to add the following to your list:

1. Passage to India by Walt Whitman - http://www.americanpoems.com/poets/waltwhitman/13320
2. To a Locomotive in Winter by Walt Whitman - http://www2pb.ip-soft.net/railinfo/poems/toalocomotive.html
3. Overture to a dance of Locomotives by William Carlos Williams - http://www2pb.ip-soft.net/railinfo/poems/overture-to-a-dance.html
4. The Night Mail by W H Auden -http://www.newearth.demon.co.uk/poems/lyric206.htm
5. Tommies in the Train by D H Lawrence

Ludwig said...

[anonymous] Thanks. Gosh, there's so many of them. Maybe I should edit and publish an anthology!

D said...

Dharam pappaji on his birthday yesterday, which he shares with Sharmila auntie mentioned the song from DOST on Radio City, "Gaadi Bula Rahi Hai, seeti baja rahi hai" which is as good as any poem about trains ... Sent you the gif by mail

Also read, http://www.hindu.com/thehindu/fr/2002/05/10/stories/2002051000680300.htm