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Walter Savage Landor

(30 January 1775 – 17 September 1864 / Warwick)

A Railroad Eclogue


Father: What brought thee back, lad?

Son: Father! the same feet
As took me brought me back, I warrant ye.

Father: Couldst thou not find the rail?

Son: The deuce himself
Who can find most things, could not find the rail.

Father: Plain as a pike-staff miles and miles it lies.

Son: So they all told me. Pike-staffs in your day
Must have been hugely plainer than just now.

Father: What didst thou ask for?

Son: Ask for? Tewkesbury,
Thro Defford opposite to Breedon-hill.

Father: Right: and they set ye wrong?

Son: Me wrong? not they;

The best among 'em should not set me wrong,
Nor right, nor anything; I'd tell 'em that.

Father: Herefordshire's short horns and shorter wits
Are known in every quarter of the land,
Those blunt, these blunter. Well! no help for it!
Each might do harm if each had more of each . .
Yet even in Herefordshire there are some
Not downright dolts . . before the cider's broacht,
When all are much alike . . yet most could tell
A railroad from a parish or a pike.
How thou couldst miss that railroad puzzles me,
Seeing there lies none other round about.

Son: I found the rails along the whole brook-side
Left of that old stone bridge across yon Avon.

Father: That is the place.

Son: There was a house hard-by,
And past it ran a furnace upon wheels,
Like a mad bull, tail up in air, and horns
So low ye might not see 'em. On it bumpt,
Roaring, as strait as any arrow flits,
As strait, as fast too, ay, and faster went it,
Arid, could it keep its wind up and not crack,
Then woe betide the eggs at Tewkesbury
This market-day, and lambs, and sheep! a score
Of pigs might be made flitches in a trice,
Before they well could knuckle.
Father! Father!
If they were ourn, thou wouldst not chuckle so,
And shake thy sides, and wipe thy eyes, and rub
Thy breeches-knees, like Sunday shoes, at that rate.
Hows'ever. . . .

Father: 'Twas the train, lad, 'twas the train.

Son: May-be: I had no business with a train.
'Go thee by rail,' you told me; 'by the rail
At Defford' . . and didst make a fool of me.

Father: Ay, lad, I did indeed: it was methinks
Some twenty years agone last Martinmas.

Submitted: Friday, April 16, 2010

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