The Night Operator

In his little lamp-lit office,
Thro’ the gloomy hours of night,
Sits the midnight operator,
From the eve till morning’s light,
Watching close with sharpened hearing,
What the sleepless sounders say;
Talking with his wakeful neighbour,
In the station far away.

Now his office call is sounded,
How the glittering sounder “clicks”,
And he catches quick the ‘order’,
Flag and hold train number six,
Quickly comes another ‘order’,
For a freight train overdue,
And the sounder clicks it fiercely,
Hurry up the thirty-two.

Little knows the man or woman,
Swiftly speeding o’er the rail,
How the safety or the danger,
Rests on one who dare not fail;
Rests on the night operator,
Seated in his lonely room;
One mistaking of an ‘order’,
Sends the train to fearful doom.


From the ‘POETS’ CORNER’ Railway Budget, 1893

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