Jan 22 Walt Whitman: To A Locomotive in Winter

To A Locomotive In Winter

by Walt Whitman

Thee for my recitative,
Thee in the driving storm even as now, the snow, the winter-day
declining,
Thee in they panoply, thy measur’d dual throbbing and thy
beat convulsive,
Thy black cylindric body, golden brass and silvery steel,
Thy ponderous side-bars, parallel and connecting rods, gyrating,
distance,
Thy great protruding head-light fix’d in front,
Thy long, pale, floating vapor-pennants, tinged with delicate purple,
The dense and murky clouds out-belching from thy smoke-stack,
Thy knitted frame, thy springs and valves, the tremulous twinkle of
thy wheels,
Thy train of cars behind, obedient, merrily following,
Through gale or calm, now swift, now slack, yet steadily careering;
continent,
For once come serve the Muse and merge in verse, even as here I see
thee,
With storm and buffeting gusts of wind and falling snow,
By day thy warning ringing bell to sound its notes,
By night thy silent signal lamps to swing.
Fierce-throated beauty!
Roll through my chant with all thy lawless music, thy swinging lamps
at night,
Thy madly-whistled laughter, echoing, rumbling like an earthquake,
rousing all,
Law of thyself complete, thine own track firmly holding,
(No sweetness debonair of tearful harp or glib piano thine,)
Thy trills of shrieks by rocks and hills return’d,
Launch’d o’er the prairies wide, across the lakes,
To the free skies unpent and glad and strong.

Walt Whitman’s poem very obviously dedicated to a train is evocative to me of something alive, something powerful. It almost seems to me as if it is a cult leader with it’s obedient cars following. But perhaps it is a recognition of a new mythical god its “madly-whistled laughter, echoing, rumbling like an earthquake” and it is a “law of thyself”. He paints it as alive, it is throbbing and gyrating (and yes, there’s a bit of insinuation there), but a living thing that is larger than life and new and shining – “modern – emblem of motion and power”. A celebration of the new of the swift future coming hurtling before us.

Advertisements

About penneloppe

I like to write horror, dark fantasy and crime fiction. Sometimes, I'll write science fiction, but usually I like to write science fact. I also write screenplays and stage plays. My day job is office work. I live in Seattle and I have a cat.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s