Mudcat Café message #2724829 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #76910   Message #2724829
Posted By: Jim Dixon
16-Sep-09 - 12:02 PM
Thread Name: Lyr Add: The Hell-Bound Train
Subject: Lyr Add: TOM GRAY'S DREAM
From The Journal of the Switchmen's Union of North America, Vol. 9, No. 3 (Buffalo, NY: Switchmen's Union, January, 1907), page 137:


Tom Gray lay down on the bar-room floor,
Having drunk so much he could drink no more;
So he fell asleep with a troubled brain
To dream that he rode on a hell-bound train.

The engine with blood was red and damp,
And brilliantly lit by a brimstone lamp.
An imp, for fuel, was shoveling bones
While the furnace rang with a thousand groans.
The boiler was filled with lager beer,
And the devil himself was the engineer.

The passengers made such a motley crew—
Church member, atheist, gentile and Jew,
Rich men in broadcloth and beggars in rags,
Handsome young ladies and withered old hags,
Yellow and black men, red, brown and white,
And all chained together—a horrible sight,
While the train dashed on at an awful pace
And a hot wind scorched their hands and face.

Wilder and wilder the country grew
As faster and faster the engine flew.
Louder and louder the thunder crashed
And brighter and brighter the lightning flashed.
Hotter and hotter the air became,
Till the clothes were burnt from each quivering frame;
Then in the distance there arose such a yell:
"Ha, ha," croaked the devil, "We're nearing hell."
Then oh, how the passengers shrieked with pain
And begged of the devil to stop the train,
But he capered about and sang with glee,
And laughed and joked at their agony.

"My faithful friends, you have done my work,
And the devil can never a pay day shirk.
You have bullied the weak, you have robbed the poor,
And the starving brother turned from the door;
You have laid up gold where the canker rusts
And given free vent to your fleshy lusts;
You have drank and rioted, murdered and lied,
And mocked at God in your hell-born pride;
You have paid full fare, so I'll carry you through,
For it is only right you should get your due.
Why, the laborer always expects his hire,
So I'll land you safe in the lake of fire,
Where your flesh shall roast in the flames that roar
And my imps torment you more and more."

Then Tom awoke with an agonized cry.
His clothes soaked with sweat and his hair standing high,
And he prayed as he never prayed before,
To be saved from drink and the devil's power;
And his prayers and his cries were not in vain,
For he never more rode on the hell-bound train.

And. Kerr in Houston Labor Journal.