Cather, Willa. "The Night Express." The Online Archive of Nineteenth-Century Women's Writings. Ed. Glynis Carr. Online. Internet. Posted: Fall1999. http://www.facstaff.bucknell.edu/gcarr/19cUSWW/WC/NE.html

The Night Express

by Willa Cather

From out the mist-clad meadows, along the river shore,
The night express-train whistles with eye of fire before.
A trail of smoke behind her enclouds the rising moon
That gilds the sighing poplars and floods the wide lagoon.
Through yellow fields of harvest and waving fields of corn
The night express-train rumbles with whistle low and lorn.
The silent village harkens the sound it knows so well,
And boys wait on the siding to hear the engine-bell,
While lads who used to loiter with wistful steps and slow,
Await to-night a comrade who comes, but will not go.
The train that brings to mothers the news of sons who roam
Shoots red from out the marshes to bring a rover home.

With restless heart of boyhood we watched that head-light when
The whistle seemed to call us to dare the world of men;
To leave the plow and herd-whip for lads with hearts of clay,
And while our blood was leaping be up and fare away;
To find the great world somewhere, to wander wide and see
If men of coast or mountain were better men than we.
We heard the hoarse throat whistle, we heard the engine-bell,
We saw the red eye blazing, we knew the hot heart well.
But little could we reckon, gay-hearted boys at play,
The horse that took us out to men would bring us home one day;
That took us out at morning, with shining wheels ahum,
Would bring us home at evening, when we are glad to come.

Ah! let my fight be fiercer, the little time before
They bring me still and weary along the river shore.
Then may the wheels turn swiftly behind the eye of fire,
And may the bell ring gaily that brings me my desire.
The boys I used to watch with will all be there to see,
When I come home to rest me in the ground that nurtured me.
To earth I digged in boyhood, through fields I used to keep,
The lads who wrought beside me shall bear me home to sleep.
From out the mist clad marshes, along the river shore,
With trail of smoke behind me and eye of fire before;
And youths will watch with burning to seek the world of men,
And thrill to hear the whistle that brings me home again.
 




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