Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, TO MY READERS, by ALEXANDER ANDERSON

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TO MY READERS, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: A worker on the rail, where, day by day
Last Line: This book of railway song.
Alternate Author Name(s): Surfaceman
Subject(s): Labor & Laborers; Railroads; Work; Workers; Railways; Trains

A WORKER on the rail, where, day by day,
The engine storms along,
And sends forth, as he thunders on his way,
Wild strains of eagle song.

Or toiling on with heavy pant and strain,
As if within his breast
A god, bound by some splendid doom to pain,
Lies in his wild unrest;

And struggles like Enceladus, until,
Through all his shining length,
Each fire-fed sinew answers with a thrill,
And shakes and gleams with strength.

Then the wild vigour, shooting to its point
Of madness, fills each limb
That strides with one great sweep from joint to joint
Of rails, that under him

Bend, as they feel his sudden certain grasp,
Or quiver as he reels,
And slips and slides with sullen grind and rasp
Of sternly-rolling wheels.

Or in the night, when darkness, like a veil,
Curtains the sleep of earth,
He flares along the pathway of the rail
Like a Titanic birth

Of some great monster from whose throat, as when
A new volcano wars,
A million sparks of fire burst up, and then
Fall down like mimic stars:

As with unwinking eye of glowing white
He tears the night apart,
And with broad spears of palpitating light
(The lightnings of his heart),

He shears the midnight with its shadowy shrouds,
Till every breath and pant
Mirrors and paints itself against the clouds,
Like northern lights aslant.

And swift as thoughts fling arches over space
In some worn giant's dream,
He rushes, crown'd with flame, upon his race,
The god of fire and steam!

Nay, when far out among the hills I lie
Beside the moorland streams,
Hearing them whisper forth with lulling sigh
Their little hopes and dreams:

He follows still, and from the distant bound,
His whistle echoes shrill,
Lapping with an invisible wave of sound
Each rift and shore of hill;

Or in the city, when I pace the street,
At one with all my kind,
Dreaming I hear in all the tramp of feet
The steady march of mind,

Moving to silent battles still unfought,
And seeing far on high
Standards, which truth with her own hands has wrought
For men to guard or die.

And hearing the firm tramp of peoples strong
In the high rights of man,
I move, as if one of the fearless throng,
A footstep from the van.

Till, worthy climax to my dreams, the black
Wild monster rushes on,
Along great arches that uprear their back,
Like Atlases of stone.

And linking surging street to street, he seems
Aglow with dusky scorn,
The swart apostle preaching wondrous dreams
Of days and years unborn.

For with him, like a prophecy that raves
Of some wild fruitful deed,
Go the great energies that kneel like slaves
Wherever men have need.

What marvel, then, that seeing, day by day,
The engine rush along,
That I send you, from out the "four-feet way,"
This book of railway song.

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