Home

OLD, BUT STILL A FAVORITE.

John Godfrey Saxe's "Rhyme of the Rail" Still Quoted as One of the Best of Its Kind and Time.

Few purely humorous poems dealing with commonplace subjects have come nearer attaining immortality than has John Godfrey Saxe's "Rhyme of the Rail." Written more than fifty years ago, it is still quoted as one of the most amusing railroad poems ever written. It deals with the ordinary experiences, sensations, and people of a railroad trip, but with such zest and freshness and quaint but appropriate rhythm that both the ear and the sense of humor are pleased.

The poem was written some time in the late forties, and appeared in "Humorous and Satirical Poems," published in 1850. Saxe was by turns a lawyer, school superintendent, and journalist, finally deciding on the last as his life career. In 1850 he purchased the Burlington (Vermont) Sentinel, and in 1872 he became the editor of the Albany Journal.

He is remembered principally, however, for his comic poetry. His journalism has been drowned in the broad flood of anonymity, and his few short excursions into politics were fraught with disaster. But the "Rhyme of the Rail" bids fair to live as long as its subject.

RHYME OF THE RAIL.

BY JOHN GODFREY SAXE.

Singing through the forests,
Rattling over ridges;
Shooting under arches,
Rumbling over bridges;
Whizzing through the mountains,
Buzzing o'er the vale,-
Bless me! this is pleasant,
Riding on the rail!

Men of different "stations"
In the eye of fame,
Here are very quickly
Coming to the same;
High and lowly people,
Birds of every feather,
On a common level,
Traveling together.

Gentleman in shorts,
Looming very tall;
Gentleman at large,
Talking very small;
Gentleman in tights,
With a loose-ish mien;
Gentleman in gray,
Looking rather green;

Gentleman quite old,
Asking for the news;
Gentleman in black,
In a fit of blues;
Gentleman in claret,
Sober as a vicar;
Gentleman in tweed,
Dreadfully in liquor!

Stranger on the right
Looking very sunny,
Obviously reading
Something rather funny.
Now the smiles are thicker,
Wonder what they mean!
Faith, he's got the Knicker-
Bocker Magazine.

Stranger on the left
Closing up his peepers;
Now he snores amain,
Like the Seven Sleepers;
At his feet a volume
Gives the explanation,
How the man grew stupid
From "Association!"

Ancient maiden lady
Anxiously remarks,
That there must be peril
'Mong so many sparks;
Roguish-looking fellow,
Turning to the stranger,
Says it's his opinion
She is out of danger!

Woman with her baby,
Sitting vis-a-vis;
Baby keeps a-squa!ling,
Woman looks at me;
Asks about the distance,
Says it's tiresome talking,
Noises of the cars
Are so very shocking!

Market-woman, careful
Of the precious casket,
Knowing eggs are eggs,
Tightly holds her basket;
Feeling that a smash,
If it came, would surely
Send her eggs to pot
Rather prematurely.

Singing through the forests,
Rattling over ridges;
Shooting under arches,
Rumbling over bridges;
Whizzing through the mountains,
Buzzing o'er the vale, -
Bless me! this is pleasant,
Riding on the rail!

Home
Prev     Next
Site Map