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Posted by on Oct 3, 2008

Travel by Edna St. Vincent Millay

“The railroad track is miles away,
And the day is loud with voices speaking,
Yet there isn’t a train goes by all day
But I hear its whistle shrieking.
All night there isn’t a train goes by,
Though the night is still for sleep and dreaming,
But I see its cinders red on the sky,
And hear its engine steaming.
My heart is warm with friends I make,
And better friends I’ll not be knowing;
Yet there isn’t a train I’d rather take,
No matter where it’s going. “

I have a fondness for this poem. In general with poetry, I often take some meaning from it that is often nowhere to be found in the poem itself. Perhaps it is just the way the words strike you or the memories they conjure. I imagine that in dreams do we travel the most, but I like the use of the train and its whistle shrieking. As far as I am concerned, that is the perfect metaphor for wanderlust. That desire to see the world, that understanding (whether real or imagined) that somewhere, far away, that there is meaning and understanding and wisdom. Perhaps it is just a greediness or a selfish desire or a lonely impulse of delight. I think it is more than that; it is a real willingness to understand. That train whistle will stay in your head forever, just as I still hear the subway voice from Seoul, so elegant, or the church bells in Venice rising over the lazy sounds of the waters lapping up against the old stone. You never forget these sounds. You can close your eyes and hear them and are instantly transported.

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