Oh, an ugly thing is an iron rail,
Black, with its face to the dust.
But it carries a message where winged things fail;
It crosses the mountains, and catches the trail,
While the winds and the sea make sport of a sail;
Oh, a rail is a friend to trust.

The iron rail, with its face to the sod,
Is only a bar of ore;
Yet it speeds where never a foot has trod;
And the narrow path where it leads, grows broad;
And it speaks to the world in the voice of God;
That echoes from shore to shore.

Though the iron rail, on the earth down flung,
Seems kin to the loam and the soil,
Wherever its high shrill note is sung,
Out of the jungle fair homes have sprung,
And the voices of babel find one tongue,
In the common language of toil.

Of priest, and warrior, and conquering king,
Of Knights of the Holy Grail,
Of wonders of winter, and glories of spring,
Always and ever the poets sing;
But the great God-Force, in a lowly thing,
I sing, in my song of the rail.

Picked Poems. by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Chicago: W. B. Conkey Company, 1912.

Back to Poem Index