The Electric Tram To Kew
Through the swift night
I go to my love.
Tram bells are joy bells,
Bidding us move
On a golden path
Beneath balls of fire
Up hill and down dale,
To o'ertake desire.
Past the old shops
That my childhood knew,
Past hidden houses
And fields of dew
Lovely and secret
As thou, my friend,
Who art all heaven
At journey's end.
by Lesbia Harford.
In A Tram
One of the twain was long and dusty grey,
And like a spark that in the ashes lies,
Satiric laughter glinted in his eyes
And made his nose auroral with its ray:
The other like a huge black bird of prey,
His hat enorm, his pipe of awful size,
His coat hung empty-sleeved in careless wise,
Loomed a fat angel from the pit astray.
A voice was booming ever: laugh and jeer
Mingled with noble praise of battling right,
And verse and girls were mixed with radiant beer
And all the city tram was given sight
Of the invisible dark and bidden hear
Unsplashing silence of the pouring light.
Farewell Cable Tram
Now a sad farewell to the cable-tram,
Staunch friend of the quieter days,
That glided down thro' a leisured town
Ere the urge for speed was a craze.
We'd time to spare and we took the air
On a sociable seat outside
Calm charioteers of those peaceful years
When 'the trams' were a city's pride.
Clash! Clang! The twin bells rang,
And the grip went smoothly in.
Then we floated along to a muted song
And a dearth of hustle and din.
Untouched by the need for racketting speed
That frazzles the moderns' nerves,
Scarce heeding at all the warning call:
'Sit tight! Hold on at the curve!'
Unhurried, serene, we viewed the scene,
Or chatted with Charlie or Sam.
Oh, in spite of the rage of a jazz-mad age,
I'm still for the cable-tram, I am,
The jolly old cable-tram.
But they're rooting them out, the cable-trams,
Like all earth's pleasanter things;
To oblivion brought by a Juggernaut
That needs no leading strings
And they'll serve when dead, for a shelter shed
By some shrill suburban road.
Or a garden 'nook,' unbelievably crook,
At a philistine's abode.
Clash! Clang! . . . How the breezes sang
On a sunny Sabbath Day.
And away we go with Fanny or Flo
For a tram trip down the Bay.
'What O! There's class!' Proud ponies pass
With their shining jinkers there,
And joy's complete, we've a front-row seat,
And the sea-wind's in our hair.
And never a car snorts by to mar
That peace with its swank and sham.
You may keep your noise and your clattering toys!
I'm for the cable-tram, I am!
Idyllic old cable-tram.
The Lost Tram
I walked an unfamiliar street
And suddenly heard a raven's cry,
And the sound of a lute, and distant thunder,-
In front of me a tram was flying.
How I jumped onto its foot board,
Was a mystery to me,
Even in daylight it left behind
A fiery trail in the air.
It rushed like a dark, winged storm,
And was lost in the abyss of time...
Stop the tram now.
Too late. We had already turned the corner,
We tore through a forest of palms,
Over the Neva, the Nile, the Seine
We thundered across three bridges.
And slipping by the window frame,
A poor old man threw us an inquisitive glance-
The very same old man, of course,
Who had died in Beirut a year ago.
Where am I? So languid and troubled
The beat of my heart responds:
'Do you see the station where you can buy
A ticket to the India of the soul?'
A sign...Blood-filled letters
Announce: 'Zelennaya,'-I know that here
Instead of cabbages and rutabagas
The heads of the dead are for sale.
In a red shirt, with a face like an udder,
The executioner cuts my head off, too,
It lies together with the others
Here, in a slippery box, at the very bottom.
And in a side street a board fence,
A house three windows wide, a gray lawn...
Stop the tram now.
Mashenka, you lived here and sang,
You wove me, your betrothed, a carpet,
Where are your voice and body now,
Is it possible that you are dead?
How you groaned in your front chamber,
While I, in a powdered wig,
Went to introduce myself to the Empress
Never to see you again.
Now I understand: our freedom
Is only an indirect light from those times,
People and shadows stand at the entrance
To a zoological park of planets.
And a sudden, familiar, sweet wind blows,
A horseman's hand in an iron glove
And two hooves of his horse
Fly at me over the bridge.
That faithful stronghold of Orthodoxy,
Isaac's, is etched upon the sky,
There I will hold a service for Mashenka's health
And a requiem mass for myself.
And my heart goes on forever in gloom,
It is hard to breathe and painful to live...
Mashenka, I never would have dreamed
That such love and longing were possible.
A city clerk was Henry Brown,
Whose suburb knew nor tram nor train;
And ev'ry morn he walked to town.
From nine till five, with busy brain,
He labored in an office dim.
Each eve he walked out home again.
And all this tramping seemed to him
A waste of time, for, 'mid the strife,
He could not keep his lawn in trim.
It clouded his domestic life -
This going early, coming late -
And much distressed his little wife.
Then some wise man declared the State
Should put in trams, and for this scheme
Brown was a red-hot advocate.
At last he realised his dream;
And daily in and out of town
He trammed it with content supreme.
For, though it cost him half-a-crown
A week in fares, the time he saved
Meant much to him and Mrs. Brown.
And so they lived and pinched and slaved
And their suburban happiness
Seemed all that they had ever craved.
The little wife began to bless
The trams; nor grieved their meagre dole
Was weekly two and sixpence less.
Then Brown's employer, kindly soul,
Learned of this tram-car luxury,
And promptly rose to take his toll.
He sent for Brown and said that he
Should now contrive to come at eight
Since trams blessed his vicinity.
He also deemed it wise to state
That idleness begat much ill,
And it was wrong to sleep in late.
Yet Brown contrived to tram it still,
And trim his lawn with tender care,
And pay his rent and baker's bill.
His little wife vowed it unfair;
But bowed to stern, relentless fate,
And smiled and sewed and worked her share.
Just here, the landlord wrote to state,
Since trams improved his property,
He'd raise the rent as from that date.
'Three shillings weekly will not be
Too much - an equitable rise,
Considering the trams,' wrote he.
What profit oaths or women's sighs?
His 'sacred rights,' of wealth the fount,
A landlord has to recognise.
To what do poor clerks' lives amount?
An extra hour of slavery
Swells an employer's bank account.
The wealthy boss thanks God that he
Has saved some money out of Brown.
The landlord smiles contentedly.
The trams run gaily up and down,
A sight Brown sadly notes as he
Plods daily in and out of town.
The Tram (In The Midlands)
A grinding swerve, a hissing spurt,
And then a droning through the dirt!
The tram glides on its wonted way
Of everyday, of everyday.
Past every corner still the same
Squat houses huddle, meanly serried,
An image of the mute and maim
With life behind their windows buried;
Blank windows staring under slate
That presses on them desolate
As eyes bereft of brows, and drips
On puddled, flowerless garden strips.
Is it evening, noon or morn?
Is it Autumn, is it Spring?
Nothing tells but the forlorn
Rain that is over everything.
A rain that seems too slow to fall
And drifts, an immaterial pall
Of wetness in the air; it leaves
A dismal glistening on the eaves,
And grimed upon the pavement lies,
For the dirt is in the very skies.
Like without, and like within!
Dull bodies clatter out and in,
And the bell clangs, as they subside
On the long seat, and on we glide,
Defensive creatures, all askance
At one another! Small eyes lance
Suspicion; fingers tighten close
On baskets; thin lips will not lose
A word too much, and skirts draw shy
From any touch too neighbourly.
And now a bald--head, grossly quaking
And lurching round for elbow space,
Sets a black--beaded bonnet shaking
Above a pinched averted face
Or stiffly--bastioned heaving bust
That virtuously expands distrust.
And all the fluttered narrow looks
Appear like little painful books
Of soiled accounts, where bargains keep
Their cherished tale of capture cheap.
For life is all a cheapening,
And the rain is over everything,
And there is neither mirth nor woe.
Who made it so, who made it so?
As I muse, as I muse,
Numbed at heart, with eyelids leaden,
Stupefying senses lose
All but sounds and sights that deaden;
Glassy gaze and shuffled feet,
Humid glide of the endless street
Passing by with rank on rank
Of dripping roofs and windows blank,
Till one dull motion drones the brain
Out of meaning, out of time,
And the blood beats to a chime
As of bells with mouth inane.
And now a monstrous ark it seems
That's hurried with the speed of dreams
Through streets of ages! On it drives
Among unnumbered years and lives.
And now the sound grows like a surging,
As if this speed a host were urging,
And in the sound are voices coming
Thick, and tumultuous music drumming;
And savage odours are astir
Of forest leaves and hidden fur,
And naked limbs of hunters glide
And warriors in the great sun ride,
And mutinous--nostrilled horses champing
With restless necks are strongly stamping.
The Roman purple passes proud
Like an eagle through a cloud.
Lo, knights--at--arms with pennons dancing
To death's adventure gay advancing,
And here a queen that is a bride
Crimson--robed and lonely--eyed,
And there a pilgrim's dusty feet
Faring to the heavenly city;
And now an idle beggar singing
How the sun and wind are sweet
A wayside song, a wanderer's ditty:
And still around, out of the ground,
The armies of the dead are springing;
And with unearthly speed and number
Compelled like those that walk in slumber
They follow, follow! And at my ear
An imp that squats with demon leer
Is screaming, See the Triumph go!
See for whom the trumpets blow!
The prophesied, that goes before us!
This is he, Time's crown and wonder
That has the very stars for plunder;
This is he, the Promethean,
(Hark the ever--rolling paean
With a wilderness of apes for chorus!)
Who fetched from heaven the stormy fire
To serve and toil for his desire,
And plumbed the globe, and spoiled old Earth
Of all the secrets of her birth;
See him, throned triumphant there,
Like a toad, with glassy stare;
Eyes, and sees not; ears, and hears not!
Heart, and hopes not; soul, and fears not!
A boy with a bunch of primroses!
He sits uneasy, flushed of cheek,
With wandering eyes and does not speak:
His hands are hot; the flowers are his.
But Spring, O Spring is in the world.
And to the woods my fancy flying
Sees all the little fronds uncurled,
Where still the dead brown bracken's lying
And a thousand thousand shining drops
Are on the young leaves of the copse.
The spurge has all his green cups filled--
A gust will shake and brim them over--
From trembling oats the rain is spilled;
I smell the sweetness of the clover.
Long pods of tendrilled vetch are thirsting,
White flowers on the thorn are bursting;
Twigs redden on the sapling oaks
Above the grass that shoots and soaks;
The streams flow silent, full and fast;
The cuckoo's cry is heard at last;
In forky boughs and leafy shade
There's busyness for every wing;
And sweet through stalk and root and blade
Run juices of the wine of Spring.
But the primrose perfume, faint and rare
Is like a sigh of Spring forsaken.
O shy soft beauty, torn and taken!
O delicate bruised tissue fair!
You are like the eyes of an outcast fond,
Or a face seen at a prison--grate:
For Beauty's but a vagabond
And knows no home and has no mate.
Alas! what dungeon walls we rear,
For our possession, round us here!
We make a castle of defence
Out of the dullness of our sense;
Possess our burrow like the mole;
And with the blundering hands of chance
Grow cruel in our ignorance.
What is another's springing soul
That I should seek to force and bind it?
To catch my gain where it has tripped,
To thrust it down when it has slipped,
To stupefy and dumb and blind it,
Fortress my virtue with its failing,
And kindle courage at its quailing?
What is another's thought, that I
Should wish it mine in effigy?
Ah! we that grasp and bind and tame,
It is ourselves, ourselves we maim;
We maim the world. The very Spring
Stops all mute and will not sing,
The sapless branches will not quicken,
The cells of secret honey sicken,
Giant brambles writhe and twist
About the trees in poisonous mist.
The spider fattens; flies oppress,
And the buds are blackened promises,
Nothing stirs, but the leaf is shed,
And all the world of wonder's dead!
O for the touch that shall awake!
O for the word that shall renew!
And all this crust of sense shall break
And the world of wonder pierce us through;
The scales be fallen from a sight
Ravished with fountains of delight,
And the sad dullness of our scorn
Be like remembered night at morn:
Then we shall feel what we have made
Of one another, and be afraid.