Henry Lawson

(17 June 1867 – 2 September 1922 / Grenfell, New South Wales)

Second Class wait here


At suburban railway stations--you may see them as you pass--
there are signboards on the platform saying 'Wait here second class,'
And to me the whirr and thunder and the cluck of running-gear
Seem to be forever saying 'Second class wait here--
Wait here second class
Second class wait here.'

Seem to be forever saying, 'Second class wait here.'
Yes, the second class were waiting in the days of serf and prince,
And the second class are waiting--they've been waiting ever since,
There are gardens in the background, and the line is bare and drear,
Yet they wait beneath a signboard, sneering 'Second class wait here.'


I have waited oft in winter, in the mornings dark and damp,
When the asphalt platform glistened underneath the lonely lamp,
Glistened on the brick-faced cutting 'Sellum's Soap' and 'Blower's Beer,'
Glistened on enamelled signboards with their 'Second class wait here.'

And the others seemed like burglars, slouched and muffled to the throats,
Standing round apart and silent in their shoddy overcoats;
And the wind among the poplars, and the wires that thread the air,
Seemed to be forever snarling, snarling 'Second class wait there.'

Out beyond a further suburb, 'neath a chimney-stack alone
Lay the works of Grinder Brothers, with a platform of their own;
And I waited there and suffered, waited there for many a day,
Slaved beneath a phantom signboard, telling all my hopes to stay.

Ah! a man must feel revengeful for a boyhood such as mine.
God! I hate the very houses near the workshop by the line;
And the smell of railway stations, and the roar of running gear,
And the scornful-seeming signboards, saying 'Second class wait here.'

There's a train, with Death for driver, that is ever going past;
There will be no class compartments when it's 'all aboard' at last
For the long white jasper platform with an Eden in the rear;
And there won't be any signboards, saying 'Second class wait here'

Submitted: Friday, March 26, 2010

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