THE SIGNAL BOX

BRANCH LINES

DREW THE WRONG LEVER

A poem by Alexander Anderson.

Provided by Jack Turner and taken from a book entitled "Good Words" first published in 1880.

This was what, the pointsman said,
With both hands at his throbbing head:
 
I drew the wrong lever standing here
And the danger signals stood at clear;
 
But before I could draw it back again
On came the fast express, and then -
 
Then came a roar and a crash that shook
This cabin-floor, but I could not look
 
At the wreck, for I knew the dead would peer
With strange dull eyes at their murderer here!
 
"Drew the wrong lever?" "Yes I say,
Go, tell the wife, and take me away"
 
That was what the pointsman said,
With both hands at his throbbing head.
 
O ye of this nineteenth century time,
Who hold low dividends as a crime,
 
Listen. So long as a twelve hours strain
Rests like a load of lead on the brain,
 
With its ringing of bells and rolling of wheels,
Drawing of levers until one feels

The hands grow numb with a nerveless touch,
And the handles shake and slip in the clutch,
 
So long will ye have pointsman to say -
"Drew the wrong lever, take me away".

Comments about this article should be addressed to John Hinson