Archive for September 22nd, 2011

The Man in the Cab

September 22, 2011

THE MAN IN THE CAB.

Safe and snug in the sleeping car
Are father and mother and dreaming child.
The night outside shows never a star,
For the storm is thick and the wind is wild.
The frenzied train in its all-night race
Holds many a soul in its fragile walls,
While up in his cab, with a smoke-stained face,
Is the man in the greasy overalls.

Through the firebox door the heat glows white,
The steam is hissing at all the cocks;
The pistons dance and the drive-wheels smite
The trembling rails till the whole earth rocks.
But never a searching eye could trace —
Though the night is black and the speed appalls —
A line of fear in the smoke-stained face
Of the man in the greasy overalls.

No halting, wavering coward he,
As he lashes his engine around the curve,
But a peace-encompassed Grant or Lee,
With a heart of oak and an iron nerve.
And so I ask that you make a place
In the Temple of Heroes’ sacred halls
Where I may hang the smoke-stained face
Of the man in the greasy overalls.

— Nixon Watterman, in L.A.W. Bulletin.

The Nebraska State Journal (Lincoln, Nebraska) Oct 25, 1897