Monday, June 26, 2006

Song of a Train

Rain, Steam and Speed 1844
Joseph Mallord William Turner
Oil on canvas, 90.8 x 121.9 cm
National Gallery, London

Often compared to Joesph Turner's Rain, Steam, Speed Song of a Train was penned by the late Victorian Scots poet John Davidson (1857-1909) who is remembered chiefly as an eccentric. A writer of short lyrical verse like this one, his most powerful works are the many ballads he wrote. Today we are so jaded by travel that flights by Concords halfway round the world are memorable only when the're punctual and Davidson's poem expressing the awe and magic of trains seems completely out dated. Davidson didn't care for that kind of change, he killed himself in 1909 because, as one critic puts it, "he was tired of the 20th century."

Public domain text taken from The Poets' Corner

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