David Lewis Paget
The Train With A Tender Heart - Poem by David Lewis Paget
The train chugged on in the darkness
Past meadows and cattle asleep,
And the night revealed its starkness
Puffing smoke on the backs of sheep,
Its livery was as black as the soot
That covered its ageing paint,
It couldn't be classed as beautiful,
Though it might have been thought as quaint.
The night was such an inky black
As a cloud obscured the stars,
The train was sensing a nothingness
In the vast expanse to Mars,
The fireman sprayed its feed of coal
As the boiler felt the strain,
As tired pistons and tired wheels
Drove on the exhausted train.
A thought came out of the empty sky
And mixed with the sulphur stream,
‘Why can't I be like the other trains
That little boys love, and dream,
Instead, I've spent my whole life long
Tied to an endless rail,
I've done all the driver wanted to
But I may as well be in jail.'
There was only an empty signal box
Unmanned at that time of night,
And miles and miles of dark ahead
With never a single light,
So an angry feeling was building up
At that Great Train in the sky,
That only commanded, ‘what thou shalt, '
But never explained, ‘but why? '
So into the dark it chugged along
With carriages in its wake,
While deep inside, the fireman asked
‘Did anyone fix the brake?
The driver shook his gnarled old head
As if in a quick reply,
‘There hasn't been time for the loco shed,
But they'll fix it, by and by.'
The boiler started to grumble so
They stopped at a water trough,
The fireman pulled the spout across
And turned it on, then off,
They pulled away with the tender full
Though the train was feeling pain,
‘I'm always doing the same old things,
I'm not going to stop again.'
So on they steamed to Hunterdown
Where at last the brakes had failed,
All they got was a steady sçream
As the wheels spun on the rails,
And though the driver cut the steam
Still along the track it sped,
While the driver and the fireman
On the footplate, stood in dread.
‘The rail runs out at Dead Man's Eye
Said the driver to his mate,
If we can't slow down this blessed thing,
I'm afraid, it's much too late.'
They chose to jump as the rail ran out
But the train still plunged ahead,
Over the untamed landscape
Riding on meadow grass instead.
The carriages piled behind it
Were detached in an awful wreck,
But still the locomotive drove
On a joyous final trek,
It rambled over a grassy ridge
And fell over a pleasant hill,
Next to a colourful flower bed,
And today, it lies there still.
Now children gather to play on it
This pile of rusted steel,
A train that had a tender heart
And for once could see and feel,
If all of its life were memories
Then the one it's surely got,
Is riding unfettered across the green
To a bed of forget-me-nots.
21 April 2017
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