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This poem is taken from PN Review 28, Volume 9 Number 2, November - December 1982.

Seven Old Railway Posters Peter Levi
 
1.
The night mail is this yellow and brown light
where a man not young, solid as brickwork
frozen in the hot act of shoveling
whizzes away, and the blue driver glares,
all quite motionless in furnace beams,
all frozen, all design, all lantern light,
all is Venetian, flying architecture
and decorated gateways of iron.
And yet, the stooping man laborious
the furnace of his own feeding defines;
the driver a self-portrait, sea-captain,
man of arts and philosopher and king
his soul eaten away behind his face.
A flask of tea, a sore back at midnight.
Passenger, all this hangs behind your world,
it is peopled by godlike undermen.
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