I'm having trouble understanding this poem by Edna St. Vincent Millay, could some please paraphrase the section below?The railroad track is miles away, And the day is loud with voices speaking, Yet...

I'm having trouble understanding this poem by Edna St. Vincent Millay, could some please paraphrase the section below?

The railroad track is miles away,
And the day is loud with voices speaking,
Yet there isn't a train goes by all day
But I hear its whistle shrieking.

All night there isn't a train goes by,
Though the night is still for sleep and dreaming,
But I see its cinders in the sky,
And hear its engine steaming.

My heart is warm with the friends I make,
And better friends I'll not be knowing;
Yet there isn't a train I wouldn't take,
No matter where it's going.

Asked on by ljm3515

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readerofbooks | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

It is hard to know what to do with this excerpt for two reasons. First, interpretation of poetry is a very personal thing. By this fact alone there will always be differences of opinion. Second, I would need to read the whole poem to come to a better conclusion. Bearing these two points in mind, a few observations can be made.

First, the train is found in all three stanzas. More importantly, the train is near and far. It is near enough to hear and near enough to see (at least the smoke), but also very far way because the author will not take it. In other words, the train passes by.

Second, it seems that the author would rather stay put. He or she has friends and a sense of warmth. Even if he or she would make more friends, the author will not go. There seems to be a satisfaction with staying, but at the same time a fascination with going. The latter comes out, because the imagery that is central is a moving train.

Sources:

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