Train Songs edited by Sean O’Brien and Don Paterson

In some ways I’m not keen on assorted poetry compilations, however well-edited they tend to “jump” between poems. However when I saw a collection called Train Songs on the shelf in the library then its definitely worth flicking through.

Train SongsWhilst it suffers from the usual compilation jerkiness, there are some real gems in this collection. I particularly like Wordsworth’s rant On The Projected Kendal to Windermere Railway. The irony of the number of Wordsworth-inspired tourists that travel up this railway is particularly amusing.

An understanding of railway history helps with understanding The Slow Train and why:

No more will I go to Blandford Forum and Mortiehow,
On the slow train from Midsummer Norton and Mumby Row,
No churns, no porter,
No car on a seat
At Chorlton-cum-Hardy and Chester-le-Street
We won’t be meeting again on the slow train.

There is a lot of romanticising about the age of steam, and meetings of travellers, and other ways in which trains thread there way into culture.


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