The Railway Junction Poem Analysis Essay


The Railway Junction

English Poems Index

The Railway Junction :

From here through tunnelled gloom the track

Forks into two; and one of these

Wheels onward into darkening hills,

And one toward distant seas.

How still it is; the signal light

At set of sun shines palely green;

A thrush sings; other sound there's none,

Nor traveller to be seen-

Where late there was a throng. And now,

In peace awhile, I sit alone;

Though soon, at the appointed hour,

I shall myself be gone.

But not their way (the bow-legged groom,

The parson in black, the widow and son,

The sailor with his cage, the gaunt

Gamekeeper with his gun.

That fair one too, discreetly veiled

All, who so mutely came, and went,

Will reach those far nocturnal hills

Or shores, ere night is spent.

I nothing know why thus we met-

Their thoughts, their longings, hopes, their fate:

And what shall I remember, except-

The evening growing late-

That here through tunnelled gloom the track

Forks into two; of these

One into darkening hills leads on,

And one toward distant seas?

About The Poet :

Walter de la Mare (1873-1956) spent most of his life writing poems and stories, mostly for children. His first book of poems was called Songs of Childhood (1902). The main themes he wrote about were romance and nature. His style was simple and the mysteries of magic, the moonlight and quietness fascinated him greatly. These subjects are introduced in most of his poems.

In many of his poems there is a mystery which readers must solve as best they can. In one of his best-known poems called The Listeners the reader is left with many questions.

In The Railway Junction, we are also left asking many questions. What is the appointed hour? Who is the bow-legged groom? Why is the fair one discreetly veiled? You will have your own ideas when you have read the poem through a number of times.

Words to know :

Bow-legged : shaped like a bow : bent

Discreetly : carefully, tactfully (in what one says or does)

Ere : before

Is spent : is used : is over

Mutely : silently

Nocturnal : of the night

Parson : a vicar or clergyman

Thrush : a kind of bird

Where late : where until a little while ago

English Poems Index

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I was really struck by it when I heard Seamus Heaney read it on NPR a few years ago. It’s a beautiful, touching, gently mind-bending vision from childhood. The last sentence (which is I guess almost half the poem) is just so lovely—as an image, an idea, and a sentence.

—Brian Gittis

The Railway Children

When we climbed the slopes of the cutting
We were eye-level with the white cups
Of the telegraph poles and the sizzling wires.

Like lovely freehand they curved for miles
East and miles west beyond us, sagging
Under their burden of swallows.

We were small and thought we knew nothing
Worth knowing. We thought words travelled the wires
In the shiny pouches of raindrops,

Each one seeded full with the light
Of the sky, the gleam of the lines, and ourselves
So infinitesimally scaled

We could stream through the eye of a needle.




Seamus Heaney (1939-2013) received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1995. His poems, plays, translations, and essays include Opened Ground, Electric Light, Beowulf, The Spirit Level, District and Circle, and Finders Keepers. Robert Lowell praised Heaney as the “most important Irish poet since Yeats.”

Brian Gittis is an assistant publicity director at FSG

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