Figure bent and dressed in black,
All her worries on her back,
Plods along a country lane
And, in her mind, she hears a train
Metal monster on metal rails
Thund’rin o’er hills and dales.
Tired old Emily, all forlorn.
Shuffles passed “The Ear Of Corn”
And Frederick Stone, the landlord there,
Bearded faece, like a polar bear,
Rests his broom, with a heavy sigh,
To wave away an imagined fly.
Lovely weather, nice spring day;
Forty years ago, this way,
Her son went off to Flanders Field
And Emily said, as Frederick kneeled
To tie his boot, all hobnail bright,
“My son comes home this very night!”
Poor old lday, Frederick thought,
All her hopes will come to nought.
But on she plods, the weary figure,
Passed Arthur Johnson, vim and vigour,
Twenty years, the village bobby
Whittlin’ at his favourite hobby.
P C Johnson, hale and hearty,
Plays his part as legal party
In the sleeping village of the Wold
Whose every house a history told
Crooked windows, old thatched roof
And pathways made by horse’s hoof.
Removing his shirt to catch the sun
And Margaret Burke, the District Nurse,
Who pays him money from her purse
To trim her hedge and cut her lawn,
Both hailed Emily all forlorn.
Now, of Emily, it has been said
That all’s not right within her head.
She goes each day to meet her son
Not knowing that his life is done
His bowel torn out on foreign soil
With thousands like him, true and loyal.
Slamming doors and hiss of steam
Are nothing now but a distant dream
For no trains run on rusted track
And station walls with many a crack
Will serve to tell who wants to know
That the last train ran an age ago.
The station now, in tall oak trees,
Is all the poor old lady sees.
And the train she hears is very near
We know, of course that it won’t appear
But let her dream, if dream it be,
Until death arrives to set her free.
For death has turned her mental lock
And so, she goes at four O’Clock
To the disused station in the trees
And waits, with a rug upon her knees
For man and train,. forever gone.
Still, never mind; her hope lives on.
C: Bailey Sept 1963
A true story set in a small village up in the Cotswold Hills.
Actually, I thought I had already posted this but I can only find the prose version. This piece of verse is in two line couplets with 6 lines per stanza. It is the first piece of poetry I wrote as an adult. I was serving Queen and country at the time in RAF Germany and wrote it over a lunchtime after hearing the tale from one of my colleagues whose childhood home had been the actual village where the event told here happened. He knew “Old Emily” – not her real name, of course.