Displaced Person’s Song


If you see a train this evening,

Far away, against the sky,

Lie down in your woolen blanket,

Sleep and let the train go by.


Trains have called us, every midnight,

From a thousand miles away,

Trains that pass through empty cities,

Trains that have no place to stay.


No one drives the locomotive,

No one tends the staring light,

Trains have never needed riders,

Trains belong to bitter night.


Railway stations stand deserted,

Rights-of-way lie clear and cold,

What we left them, trains inherit,

Trains go on, and we grow old.


Let them cry like cheated lovers,

Let their cries find only wind,

Trains are meant for night and ruin,

And we are meant for song and sin.”

Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow

nan locomotive

Photo Nancy Six

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8 Responses to

  1. Barb Estinson says:

    Well, that is a thought provoking quote. I have always thought that train whistles at night were haunting and lonely … though they stir up memories for me. Interesting picture, too.

  2. Di Anne Lewis says:

    Thank you Sandy for this – – – relating so much to Barb’s train whistles being haunting & lonely at night I can’t help but feel that night-train whistles have to be somehow almost universal – – – even hearing daytime trains humming along their downtown ways – – –

  3. Sandy says:

    By the way, Nan said that was an old train in the town of Snoqualmie.

    • Di Anne Lewis says:

      Nan’s old train in the town of Snoqualmie being the prototype for my Gus’s Thomas and his friend Percy trains?? Next time in Seattle Grandma Dizo will be helping Gus help Thomas & Percy wend their way through the few ancient forests that remain – – – complete with haunting midnight whistles.

  4. Jesse says:

    What a great pic and good song, my grandfather would love this one. He has to be the most avid train enthusiast I know 🙂

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