2nd Class Wait Here

Henry Lawson (1899). Music by Tony Miles (1981)

At suburban railway stations - you may see them as you pass -
There are signboards on the platform saying 'Wait here second class':
And to me the whirr and thunder and the cluck of running gear
Seems to be forever saying, saying 'Second class wait here' -

Wait here second class
Second class wait here

Yes, the second class were waiting in the days of serf and prince.
And the second class are waiting - they've been waiting ever since,
There are gardens in the background, and the line is dark and drear,
Yet they wait beneath a signboard, sneering, 'Second class wait here'.

I have waited oft in winter, in the morning dark and damp,
When the asphalt platform glistened underneath the lonely lamp,
And the wind among the poplars, and the wires that thread the air,
Seemed to be for ever snarling, snarling 'Second class wait here'.

Out, beyond a further suburb, 'neath a chimney-stack alone
Lays the works of Grinder brothers, with a platform of their own;
As I waited there and suffered, waited there for many a day,
Slaved beneath a phantom signboard, telling all my hopes to stay.

Ah! a man must feel revengeful for a boyhood such as mine.
God! I hate the very houses near the workshop by the line;
And the smell of railway stations, and the roar of running gear,
And the scornful-seeming signboards, saying 'Second class wait here'.

There's a train with death the driver, and it's ever going past,
And there are no class compartments and we all must go at last
To that long white jasper platform with an Eden in the rear;
And there won't be any signboards, saying 'Second class wait here'.

Margaret Walters - vocals
Andrew Knight - guitar & keyboard bass
Martyn Oram - fiddle

Henry Lawson, one of Australia's greatest poets, worked as a railway coach painter in Sydney's Western Suburbs. His poem express the feelings of the many workers who had to use the railways on a daily bases and were constantly reminded of their place in early Australian Society.

from Trains of Treasure a CD of Australian railway songs and poems

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