Published on Academy of American Poets (https://poets.org)


Train Window

Small towns 
Crawling out of their green shirts . . . 
Tubercular towns 
Coughing a little in the dawn . . . 
And the church  . . . 
There is always a church
With its natty spire
And the vestibule —
That’s where they whisper: 
Tzz-tzz . . . tzz-tzz . . . tzz-tzz. . . .
How many codes for a wireless whisper—
And corn flatter than it should be 
And those chits of leaves
Gadding with every wind? 
Small towns 
From Connecticut to Maine: 
Tzz-tzz . . .tzz-tzz . . . tzz-tzz. . .  

Credit


This poem is in the public domain. 

Author


Lola Ridge

Born in Dublin on December 12, 1873, Lola Ridge grew up in mining towns in New Zealand and Australia. 

Ridge first received critical attention in 1918 when her long poem “The Ghetto” was published in The New Republic. Later that year, Ridge published her first book, The Ghetto and Other Poems. The collection focused on the Lower East Side tenements where Ridge was living, specifically the lives of Jewish immigrants. Her subsequent collections were Dance of Fire (H. Smith and R. Hass, 1935); Firehead (Payson & Clarke, 1929); Red Flag (The Viking Press, 1927), a book of political poetry; and Sun-Up and Other Poems (B. W. Huebsch, Inc., 1920).

Ridge was employed as a factory worker and was politically active, often writing about race, class, and gender issues, especially in her early work. She was an advocate for women’s rights, gay rights, and the rights of immigrants. In 1927, she was arrested while protesting the execution of Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, anarchists and Italian immigrants who were convicted, through a controversial trial, of murdering two men during an armed robbery in Massachusetts.

The critical success of Ridge’s early work led to editorships at the avant-garde journals Other, where she worked alongside poets William Carlos Williams and Marianne Moore, and Broom. Her awards included a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1935 and the Shelley Memorial Award in 1936. She died in New York at the age of sixty-seven on May 19, 1941.

Date Published: 1920-01-01

Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/train-window