[Editor: This poem by Grant Hervey was published in Australians Yet and Other Verses, 1913.]
An Idyll of the Rail
The train slows down at Siding-Town, and fat “commercials” swear —
The soft goods kings breathe nameless things, they tilt their hats and glare !
They cut and deal and curse with zeal — “why don’t the wheels go round ?
Stuck here all day !” — The C.T.A. begins to leap and bound !
Go softly, boys ! A fireman’s joys shall not for soft goods quail ;
Spare yet a glance at true romance — Bill’s Idyll of the Rail !
Let soft goods wait, for God is great and Bill in dungarees
Steps down awhile for Mary’s smile — she holds the station-keys !
Let big cigars and furnace-bars their incense lift and blend ;
Pipes ! kindly draw — this is the Law, and shall be to the end !
A woman’s eyes, soft speech and sighs — black hair that curls and gleams
Calls unto Bill, and love may thrill a “blue”-clad fireman’s dreams !
Begrudge him not one tiny jot — no bounds to pleasure’s tale ;
This is Bill’s hour of primal power — his Idyll of the Rail !
The wheels shall sing when Bill, the king, goes rolling down the grade ;
The C.T.A. shall shout “Hooray !” — the hustling lords of Trade !
But Mary waits — the station-gates are closed once more till Bill
With pennoned steam and eyes a-gleam comes up the evening hill !
Just twice a day he comes her way — two trips with steel and steam ;
In oil-stained “blues” he comes and woos — God knows sweet Mary’s dream !
He is her king — the rails shall ring, the whole glad earth shall hail
That final day Bill takes away his Idyll of the Rail !
Grant Hervey. Australians Yet and Other Verses, Thomas C. Lothian, Melbourne, 1913, pages 187-188
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