Sthephan G. Stephansson Poetry

ON THE TRAIN

Out on the platform that coupled the cars,
I drank in the night-air alone;
For drugg'd in the thick, heavy vapors within,
Each passenger sat like a stone.
On through the vastness and darkness the train
Kept ever its shadowy way,
With no halt in the heat of its thunderous haste,
No hesitant falter nor stay.
Far out in the infinite vault of the sky,
The stars in their courses look'd on
To mock the machine and its stertorous breath
With flames that for eons had shone.
But the prairies flowed by like an ebony sea
Of boundless and billowless black,
Where our train, a long Doomship, with belly of fire,
Sought Asgard with death in its track.

Out on the steps, I grew weary alone;
The pleasure in truth is but slight
To wrestle the wind, an importunate mate,
And stare in the eye of the night.
Having found in the past a more excellent way
The dulness of travel to ban,
I wandered unasked to the car next to mine
To study the manners of man.

To strands held by strangers I come with a love
That streams in the tenderest tones,
Yet green are far hillocks that grip at my heart

The graves of my ancestors' bones.
I know why that homeland has held me so close;
For hued with the mem'ries of yore
Each vista of earth bears a voice from the past
By valley and mountain and shore;
And out of those voices comes strength for the strife,
The strain that man’s living requires;
Even so is the sanction that every land gives
Long sacred to mothers and sires.

Written in 1898

Translated by Watson Kirkconnell.



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