The Shunter

A poem by Will Lawson (1937)
recited by Denis Kevans

The engine bars are splashed and starred
They've killed a shunter in the yard
He never seen how he was struck
and he died sudden, someone said
The driver coughed
That flamin' truck come on the slant and struck him dead

The fireman chocked and growled 'Hard Luck!'
As he was carried to the shed.

The engine whistles short and low
(his blood is on her 'catcher-bars').
We had to let his young wife know
His soul had passed beyond the stars,
Where he will hear no engines blow,
Nor listen for the coming cars.

She stared and stared - until he came,
On four men's shoulders, up the hill.
She sobbed and laughed and called his name,
And shivered when he lay so still-
She had no cruel words of blame-
She bore no one of us ill-will.

They've washed the rails and sprinkled sand.
(Oh! Hear the mail go raring on!)
And he was just a railway hand-
A hidden star they never shone-
And no one seems to understand-
Her heart is broken! He is gone!

The engine-bars are cold and hard-
They've killed a shunter in the yard.


Printed in "Freedom on the Wallaby" - Marjorie Pizzer

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