Page 44 - catalogue 230117
P. 44
7. At the Railway Station, Upway.
From Late Lyrics and Early – published 1922

'There is not much that I can do,
For I've no money that's quite my own!'
Spoke up the pitying child -

A little boy with a violin
At the station before the train came in, -
'But I can play my fiddle to you,
And a nice one 'tis, and good in tone!'

The man in the handcuffs smiled;
The constable looked, and he smiled, too,

As the fiddle began to twang;
And the man in the handcuffs suddenly sang

With grimful glee:
'This life so free
Is the life for me!'
And the constable smiled, and said no word,
As if unconscious of what he heard;
And so they went on till the train came in -
The convict, and the boy with the violin.

This poem must have its origin in Hardy's boyhood, when he used to travel
around with his father playing the fiddle at weddings and parties. There would
have been convicts travelling by train to and from Dorchester Assizes. However,
since the engraving is intended to be a tribute to Britten as well as to Hardy, this
little ode to the power of music has been set in the period of Britten's boyhood in
the 1920's. It is the period in which the lives of Britten and Hardy overlapped, and
Britten himself started viola lessons at just about the time when the poem was
published.
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