Railroad Train, 1908

We continue our celebration of National Poetry Month, and Graywolf Press, with verse by the Catalan poet Ernest Farrés, translated by Lawrence Venuti, drawn from the volume Edward Hopper.



Railroad Train, 1908


No sooner is the caboose

out of sight than they've

already forgotten you.

It's like losing clout or taking

a load off their minds. That's just

how they, who are out

to lunch or do nothing

with their lives, wash their hands

of you. Got it? Yet the trains you catch

are determined, air-conditioned, carnivorous,

in fine fettle. Thickening fogs

rise yet fail to intimidate them.

They breathe in, breathe out, iridesce, seethe.

They need a ton of room

to levitate in a hurry, heading

for the possibility of other worlds

or an extraordinary order of things.

Their windows give evidence of valleys,


                  Leaving on days beneath a leaden sky

is true to type, as if clouds were formed through contact

with sweat and hot breath.

                           Hours later

you'll be swaddled in strange lights and shadows,

gusts and twittering colors, unaccustomed racket.



Ernest Farrés, "Railroad Train, 1908" from Edward Hopper. English translation copyright © 2009 by Lawrence Venuti. Reprinted with the permission of Graywolf Press, Minneapolis, Minnesota. www.graywolfpress.org

July 24: On this day in 1725 John Newton, the slave trader-preacher who wrote the hymn "Amazing Grace," was born.

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