Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, ON EARLY TRAINS, by BORIS LEONIDOVICH PASTERNAK



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ON EARLY TRAINS, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: That winter I lived outside moscow
Last Line: And spicy whiffs of honey bun.


That winter I lived outside Moscow
But when in town some duty called
I made the journey, if I had to,
Through the frost and snow and flurrying squall.
I'd leave the house so very early
That all was black as pitch outside
And send the forest darkness spurting
Beneath my creaking, squeaking stride.
And as I neared the level-crossing
The wasteland willows loomed in sight.
The stars shone far above, embossed in
The cold pit of the winter night.
Often, the Mail or Number Eighty
Would catch me by the first back-door
And race ahead to overtake me;
But I was catching the Six-Four.
A rush of light, a round, colossal
Palpus in cunning wrinkles rucked . . .
The head-lamp hurtling at full throttle
Across the deafened viaduct.
In the hot closeness of the carriage,
Surrendering to the blood's bequest,
I'd lose myself in reverent homage
First drunk in at my mother's breast.
Silent I'd sit, and through the network
Of ages past and war and want
Would recognize the matchless fret-work
Of Russia's countenance.
And, struggling not to idolize them
I'd quietly watch them and adore:
Women with schoolchildren beside them,
Commuters, craftsmen, many more . . .
Unmarred by traces of subjection,
The yoke of hunger and of want,
New griefs, new trials and new directions
They bore like masters of the land.
Glued to their books, the adolescents
And children mopped up page on page
Sprawling in poses independent
Crowded as in a horse-drawn Stage.
At Moscow we arrived as darkness
Dissolved in silver all around
Emerging from the twilit fastness
Of the great city's Underground.
Posterity swarmed to the exit
Spraying around it on the run
The smell of fresh soap lilac-scented
And spicy whiffs of honey bun.





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