Thursday, January 26, 2012

A Different Kind of Lullaby for Poetry Friday



Poetry Friday is hanging out today with Jim at Hey, Jim Hill.

My father-in-law and son, a long time ago, final run!

        My husband’s father was a railroad engineer for Union Pacific in the last years of his long railroad career.  We now have a number of different train memorabilia in our home because of him.  My husband talks of many trips his family took on the trains.  It sounds like such fun and I am also nostalgic about train trips after reading Agatha Christie’s Murder On The Orient Express and watching old movies where love and intrigue reside on the rails.  I grew up with others taking those trips and took one myself, with my Girl Scout troop, to Washington D.C.  Imagine the hours of giggling, hardly sleeping there and back!  I am grateful to our leaders who sacrificed their time and maybe sanity by taking us.
It’s a delight when I find prose and poetry about train travel, I read the words, and sometimes find them memorable enough to read to my husband.  Lately, on a website called The Daily Poem, a particular poem appeared with such rhythm and sweetness that I wanted to share it with you, and of course I shared it first with my husband. 
       I also found a little about Alicia Stallings, who is still writing and has published several books of poetry.  She is known as a classical poet, has translated from the Greek and lives with her husband and son in Athens, Greece.  More poems and a short bio can be found at The Poetry Foundation.

Lullaby Near The Railroad Tracks 
                         by Alicia E. Stallings

Go back to sleep.  The hour is small.
         A freight train between stations
Shook you out of sleep with all
         Its lonely ululations.

                        The rest can be found here.


The sheet music to an original composition that was created for a choir using Lullaby Near The Railroad Tracks by Paul Crabtree can be found here, .

     As I researched, I found one more poem by Stallings that I thought wonderful to share, titled Fairy-tale Logic.  I imagine that students might love this particular poem about fairy tales.

Fairy-tale Logic

Fairy tales are full of impossible tasks:
Gather the chin hairs of a man-eating goat,
Or cross a sulphuric lake in a leaky boat,

              Read the rest of those heinous tasks here.

         

18 comments:

  1. This poem reminds me of when we lived in Atlanta, the railroad tracks were behind my bedroom window -- I could feel the house rattle as the trains went by and at night I heard the screech of the brakes and the engineers talking on their cell phones as the train stopped behind my house waiting for their turn at a nearby junction.

    I love the line about "the Doppler shift of time".

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    1. We don't get to hear that lonely train sound much anymore-nowhere close at all. I did look up the Doppler Time & how it worked, & it fits the poem too. Impressive use of the scientific concept!

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  2. I'm just getting to know Stallings. Thanks for these poems.Lullaby Near the Railroad Tracks is so rhythmical. I love "lonely ululations."

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    1. I love that line, too, but also the final one, 'pulling the dawn behind her'.

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  3. Hi Linda, I haven't had much experience with trains - must be a different generation altogether (hahaha). But I do recall taking sea journeys by ship to travel from one part of the Philippines to the next - usually lasts three days/two nights depending on distance. But yeah, that was also quite fun. Now the only trains I know are the MRTs here in Singapore. :) Thank you for sharing those lovely reminiscences with us. Cute photo as well!

    These are my favorite lines from Stalling's Fairy-tale Logic:
    "You have to fight magic with magic. You have to believe
    That you have something impossible up your sleeve,
    The language of snakes, perhaps, an invisible cloak,
    An army of ants at your beck, or a lethal joke,
    The will to do whatever must be done"
    -- so wise. :)

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    1. Those sea journeys sound lovely, and slow which helps the anticipation of the destination. I thought you'd like that second one considering your latest blog adventures!

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  4. Love the romance of trains! Started with Sendak's "Hats are to wear on trains."

    A dear friend (who passed away a year ago) had a long, illustrious career in the railroad business. It's likely your father-in-law knew him. Bob was once President of Long Island Railroad. I met my husband while he was working on a rail project in Algeria, so we are very fond of trains in our family. I really loved riding the surface trains when we lived in England. :). Thanks for introducing me to Stallings' work.

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    1. Romantic tale, Jama! I am envious of all your adventures on trains. We only have a 'light rail' here in Denver-not much sound effect there.

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  5. Love train travel. We have a wonderful Amtrak outcropping here in Maine that leads to Boston traveling the coast. The trip to PA is likewise a coastal route. Love the feel of traveling the rails. I am reminded of a particular train ride we took many years ago from Wisconsin to Boston. Very memorable. Perhaps I will start writing it. Thanks for the poem! I'll have to look up ululations now! I'm going to use that one sometime before I forget it.

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    1. My daughter went to college in Boston, & took advantage of the trains often to travel to NYC & other places. Wish we had something out here like that in the west! Of course we did use the ski train until it stopped. I like those ululations too!

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  6. Train travel a probably slightly less romantic experience in this crowded island...
    However the boys' school is built on the site of a decommissioned station (from Dr Beeching's sweeping cuts that decimated the branch lines in the 1950s) and we walk there along the old track past disused platforms and through the old tunnel. That is quite romantic if a little well used by dogs to inspire poetry.
    You might like this link for some British train poems
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2007/nov/14/top10s.railway.poems

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    1. There is an old track that goes all across the state of Missouri now called the Katy trail. You reminded me of that. Thank you for the new poems; I'll look!

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  7. You had me at "ululations." I've always loved that word but it doesn't come up nearly frequently enough. Love the fairy tale logic, as well. So double thanks!

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    1. I love finding the little pieces that I wish I'd found a way to write. Glad you liked!

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  8. Hi, Linda--
    I'm sorry to realize that I've never visited your blog, after all your kind comments to mine. This was a wonderful poem to find--it's Donald Crews's Freight Train, several spirals higher! And of course it clickety-clacks, "alack, alack," just as it should. I'll go off and find more AE Stallings.

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    1. Thank you Heidi. This book is a favorite in our house, of course, and thank you for reminding me of it.

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  9. This is one I was inspired to read aloud, too, when I got it in my email the other day! Thanks for sharing it.

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  10. How have I been missing your PF posts? Do you submit your link to the roundup host? Am I just blind?

    My...hmm...great uncle? grandfather? both? were Union Pacific men and Denver natives. Wonder if there are crossed paths in our ancestry?

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Having a conversation is a good thing!