James and Mary Ford, eds. Every Day in the Year. 1902.

September 27

The Song of the Railroad

By Richard Monckton Milnes, Lord Houghton (1809–1885)

  • On Sept. 27, 1825, the first railroad in England, the Stockton & Darlington, was thrown open to the public.

  • WHILE every age is crowned with rhyme,

    And song is ever young,

    The bravest birth of later time

    Must not remain unsung;

    A poet shall be born to us,

    For living men to hail,

    Dismounted from old Pegasus

    To mount the fiery rail!

    When speed and joy go hand in hand,

    And loves are side by side,

    We are the sunbeams of the land

    On which the angels glide;

    The husband to his anxious wife,

    The friend to friendly care,

    The lover to his life of life

    On burning wings we bear!

    But oft like ships of ill accursed

    That sail the solid earth

    On sacred parting hours we burst,

    Or mar the moment’s mirth;

    The dearest and the longest lost

    Pass by within a span

    Yet know it not; of little cost

    We make the heart of man!

    Our cry is onward, onward yet—

    Hard pace and little pause;

    We will not let the world forget

    Her nature’s motive laws.

    Like her we hasten day by day,

    Nor rest at any goal;

    The sun himself has moved, they say,

    Since planets round him roll!