Poems by the one and only 'great'
Scottish Poet William Topaz McGonagall
POEM : Saving a Train by William Topaz McGonagall
FROM : From Last Poetic Gems
A poor old woman lived on the line of the Ohio Railway,
Where the train passed near by night and day:
She was a widow, with only one daughter,
Who lived with her in a log-hut near a deep gorge of water.
Which was spanned o'er from ridge to ridge,
By a strong metal railway bridge;
And she supported herself by raising and selling poultry,
Likewise eggs and berries, in great variety.
She often had to walk to the nearest town,
Which was many miles, but she seldom did frown;
And there she sold her basket of produce right quickly,
Then returned home with her heart full of glee.
The train passed by her hut daily to the town.
And the conductor noticed her on the line passing down,
He gave her a lift, poor soul, many a time,
When he chanced to see her travelling along the line.
The engineman and brakesman to her were very good,
And resolved to help her all they could;
And thought they were not wronging the railway company
By giving the old woman a lift when she felt weary.
And by thinking so, they were quite right,
For soon an accident occurred in the dead of night,
Which filled the old woman's heart with fright,
When she heard the melted torrents of snow descending the night.
Then the flood arose, and the railway bridge gave way
With a fearful crash and plash,-- 0h, horror and dismay!
And fell into the seething and yawning gulf below,
Which filled the old woman's heart with woe.
Because in another half-hour the train would be due,
So the poor old woman didn't know what to do;
And the rain fell in a flood, and the wind was howling,
And the heavens above seemed angry and scowling.
And alas! there was no telegraph along the line,
And what could she do to warn the train in time,
Because a light wouldn't live a moment in the rain,
But to save the train she resolved to strain every vein.
Not a moment was to be lost, so to work she went,
And cut the cords of her bed in a moment;
Then shouldered the side-pieces and head-pieces in all,
Then shouted to her daughter to follow as loud as she could bawl.
Then they climbed the steep embankment, and there fearlessly stood,
And piled their furniture on the line near the roaring flood,
And fired the dry combustibles, which blazed up bright,
Throwing its red light along the line a weird-like sight.
Then the old woman tore her red gown from her back,
And tying it to the end of a stick she wasn't slack;
Then ran up the line, waving it in both hands,
While before, with a blazing chair-post, her daughter stands.
Then round a curve the red eye of the engine came at last;
Whilst the poor old woman and her daughter stood aghast,
But, thank God, the engine stopped near the roaring fire,
And the train was saved, as the old woman did desire.
And such an old woman is worth her weight in gold,
For saving the train be it told;
She was a heroine, true and bold,
Which should be written on her tombstone in letters of gold.