The Express by Stephen Spender Summary


The poem The Express is written in the praise of Express Train by Stephen Spender. The poem symbolizes the industrial revolution as well as the modern romantic era which is on contrary to the traditional one. The poem consists of four stanzas having 27 lines and there is no definite rhyme scheme.


Stanza 1

The poet says that after the first powerful plain manifesto i.e. after the announcement is made, the black statement of pistons i.e. the express train leaves the station like a queen lacking any interest in the surroundings.

In the very beginning of the poem, the poet describes the train leaving the station which looks like a queen. The poet thus imagines the train to be royal. The train neither bows before anyone nor has any restrictions.

She here refers to the train (personification). The train passes the houses which seem to be humbly crowded on both sides of the rail. The train crosses the gasworks and also the cemetery where the heavy page of death is printed by gravestones.

After reaching an open country that is beyond the town, the train speeds up and becomes mysterious for the poet. The train now seems to be a ship in the ocean which is self-possessed and is shining.

Stanza 2

The train now begins to sing, first quite low then loud. The horn of the train is sometimes low in noise while sometimes quite high and ultimately it seems to be mad. The sound of a train’s horn which is heard in curves and tunnels, the sounds of it breaks shows the joy of its tires.

Stanza 3

The poet says that while running on the rails and crossing the landscapes, the train explores and enjoys new eras of white happiness. In such eras, the train the speed of the train makes strange shapes, broad curves and also parallels clean (the rails) which never meet and which look like trajectories from guns.

Stanza 4

Finally, the train crosses Edinburgh, Rome and even the crest of the world (poet’s imaginations). The night appears the low stream-line brightness of phosphorus is visible in the train’s engine which makes it look like a comet.

Stanza 5

The final line is a direct attack on traditional Romantic Thought (return back to nature). According to the poet, the songs (horn) of the train are better than that of birds which break with honey buds.

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