Alexander Anderson

(1845-1909 / Scotland)

Railway Dreamings

Poem by Alexander Anderson

I work upon the line to-day,
The rails on either side of me,
But all my fancies wing their way,
Like swallows flying out to sea.


And ever as they speed, I dream
Of all the coming thousand things
That time will herald with a beam
Of light from off his windless wings:


What changes in the great to Be
Evolving broad, and far, and grand,
What faiths by which our kind shall see
That spinning creeds is spinning sand:


What worlds we dare not dream of now,
When Science with her eagle ken
Holds a white hand above her brow
To bring them nearer unto men:


When all the canker and the pride
Shall sink, and all the good in store
Will work and toil with us, and glide
Like Christ, among the lowly poor:


When war, a red and sulky hell
Upbursting through the green of earth,
Shall sink for ever, but to dwell
In chaos where it first had birth:


When all the lower man is sunk,
To leave him as of old again,
Ere that one taint had made him drunk
With the wild wine that devils drain:


What songs whose melody shall start
The higher music pure and free,
In poets hymning strong of heart
The labour Epics that will be.


Then the great brotherhood of man
Will sing its universal psalm,
And Peace from paradise again
Come smiling underneath the palm.


Ay, speed the time when, strong of breath
And heart that not a fear can quail,
We keep to all the higher faith
As the wild engine keeps the rail:


When, brain and heart no longer twain,
We work—God's sky above us blue—
'Stand clear, man, for that Pullman train,
Not twenty lengths of rail from you!'


I leap aside, the train roars past,
And all my fancies, worn and sick,
Come slowly back, to die at last
In the sharp raspings of the pick.


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Poem Submitted: Monday, March 3, 2014

Poem Edited: Wednesday, March 5, 2014