Janet Hamilton

1795-1873 / Scotland

The Sunday Rail: I

Now range up the carriages, feed up the fires!
To the rail, to the rail, now the pent up desires
Of the pale toiling million find gracious reply.
On the pinions of steam they shall fly, they shall fly,
The beauties of nature and art to explore,
To ramble the woodlands and roam by the shore.
The city spark here with his smart smirking lass,
All peg-topp'd and crinolined, squat on the grass:
While with quips and with cranks, and soft-wreathed smiles,
Each nymph with her swain the dull Sabbath beguiles.
Here mater and pater familias will come
With their rollicking brood from their close city home.
How they scramble and scream, how they scamper and run,
While pa and mamma are enjoying the fun!
And the urchins bawl out, 'Oh how funny and jolly,
Dear ma, it is thus to keep Sabbath-day holy!'
Now for pipe and cigar, and the snug pocket flask,
What's the rail on a Sunday without them, we ask?
What the sweet-scented heather and rich clover blooms
To the breath of the weed as it smoulders and fumes?
So in courting and sporting, in drinking and smoking,
Walking and talking, in laughter and joking,
They while the dull hours of the Sabbath away.
What a Sabbath it is! Who is lord of the day?
Son of man, Son of God, in the sacred record,
'Tis written that thou art of Sabbath the Lord;
But impious man hath reversed the decree,
And declares himself lord of the Sabbath to be.
In a world without souls it might not be amiss
The Sabbath to spend in such fashion as this;
But men having souls, if aware of the fact,
Should remember the Sabbath to keep it intact.
For souls are immortal, and bodies are clay,
And life but a vapour that fleeteth away;
To the soul and to God in His worship be given,
Oh, is it too much?-'tis but one day in seven.
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