2017-11-30

Timeless Lines To a Locomotive

The following poem, a "prophetic tribute," written by Hon. William D. Lewis of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania was composed around 1840, a dozen years after the first railroad in America. It was first published in the Evening Bulletin (Philadelphia) and reprinted in Trains magazine's December 1964 issue on page 35. While technology has changed all but the most basic concept of the railroad in the 177 years since, and time itself has rendered the verse archaic, the imagery and themes are vivid and timeless and just as easily apply to the railroads of Colorado today.

Lines To A Locomotive
by Hon. William D. Lewis

Sublimest courser of the plain,
Whom toil can neither daunt, nor tire,
Onward thou bear'st thy lengthened train, 
With iron nerves and lungs of fire.

Boldest exploit of daring man,
Whose restless and impatient mind,
Infringes nature's general plan,
And leaves with thee the winds behind.

No match for thee in airy race,
The eagle, borne on sounding winds,
Envying he views thy lightning pace,
Most wondrous of earth's wondrous things.

As some bright meteor of the sky, 
Or some unsphered and shooting star,
Thou, locomotive, seems to fly,
Beheld by dazzled eyes afar.

Science and skill their aid impart,
Trained, hills to level, valleys rear,
Thy pathway smoothed by laboring art,
To urge thee in thy swift career.

On then, majestic, mighty steed,
Speed thy fast flight from clime to clime,
To thee,the glorious task decreed,
To cancel space, to vanquish time.