Drew the Wrong Lever !”

This was what the pointsman said,1
With both hands at his throbbing head :2
I drew the wrong lever standing here3
And the danger signals stood at clear ;4
But before I could draw it back again5
On came the fast express, and then6
Then came a roar and a crash that shook7
This cabin-floor, but I could not look8
At the wreck, for I knew the dead would peer9
With strange dull eyes at their murderer here.”10
Drew the wrong lever ?”   “ Yes, I say !11
Go, tell my wife, and—take me away !”12
That was what the pointsman said,13
With both hands at his throbbing head.14
O ye of this nineteenth-century time,15
Who hold low dividends as a crime,16
Listen. So long as a twelve-hours’ strain17
Rests like a load of lead on the brain,18
With its ringing of bells and rolling of wheels,19
Drawing of levers until one feels20
The hands grow numb with a nerveless touch,21
And the handles shake and slip in the clutch,22
So long will ye have pointsmen to say23
Drew the Wrong lever ! take me away !”24