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There Is a Train

Shannon is a passionate individual whose feelings and thoughts tend spill onto the pages, often in the form of poetry and sometimes essays.

there-is-a-train

The Assignment

This is a poem my daughter wrote a couple of years ago for a 4th-grade assignment. They were learning about the Underground Railroad and the history of slavery in America. Songs such as "Follow the Drinking Gourd" were said to contain codes and secret messages, so the assignment was to imagine she was a slave escaping on the Underground Railroad and write a poem utilizing common codewords from the era.

There Is a Train

There is a train

And it's leaving here tonight

Before the moon begins to wane

Following the north star's bright light


You better catch a ride

Don't worry about your baggage

You can bring it all inside

You don't even need a ticket to gain passage


Enjoy the view of the countryside

While you listen to the conductor

As he tells you about the railroad lines

He's an excellent instructor


You better catch a ride

Don't worry about your baggage

You can bring it all inside

You'll even get free passage


The conductor, he'll take you to the next station

Oh, there is a train leaving here tonight

What a good sensation

To be following the north star's bright light


You better catch a ride

Don't worry about your baggage

You can bring it all inside

You don't even need a ticket to gain passage

Common Codewords Utilized

Baggage - Secret reference to a fugitive slave

Conductor - Those who guided fugitive slaves between safe houses

Station/Depot - Secret names given to hiding places or safe houses

Railroad Lines - The route from house to another

Comments

Shannon Henry (author) from Texas on August 05, 2019:

Thanks, Mark. She excels at these kinds of writing assignments.

Mark Tulin from Santa Barbara, California on August 05, 2019:

Cool assignment. She definitely deserved an A.

Shannon Henry (author) from Texas on November 08, 2018:

Thanks for stopping by, Lawrence. Glad you enjoyed it.

Lawrence Hebb from Hamilton, New Zealand on November 07, 2018:

Really enjoyed this poem.

Shannon Henry (author) from Texas on October 19, 2018:

I don't think I have heard of that one, Manatita. I'll look it up. Thanks.

manatita44 from london on October 18, 2018:

She did one on slaves and their getaways. It was a murder mystery all right.

Shannon Henry (author) from Texas on October 18, 2018:

That's an interesting comment, manatita. Thanks for the compliment. I guess I'm not all that familiar with Agatha Christie, though, because the only book I can think of is a murder mystery.

Shannon Henry (author) from Texas on October 18, 2018:

What a sweet thing to say, Chitrangada! Thanks. :)

Shannon Henry (author) from Texas on October 18, 2018:

Thanks, Louise. So glad you liked it.

manatita44 from london on October 18, 2018:

Poetry of hope. Reminded me of one of Angela Lansbury's Agatha Christie movies.

Thamks for the small Thesaurus too. Best wishes

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on October 18, 2018:

Excellent poem and thanks for helping with the codes. Your daughter is very talented and expressive. You must be her inspiration. Wish her all the best.

Thanks for sharing this!

Louise Powles from Norfolk, England on October 14, 2018:

That's a great poem your daughter wrote. I really enjoyed reading it!

Shannon Henry (author) from Texas on October 12, 2018:

Thank you, Gypsy. She's been enjoying the nice comments you all have posted. But she scolded me for not posting the tooth poem right away so that it didn't get lost.

Gypsy Rose Lee from Daytona Beach, Florida on October 12, 2018:

A fantastic and great use of those code words.

Shannon Henry (author) from Texas on October 12, 2018:

Thanks, Mary. A lot of popular folk songs and songs from history can be looked at in a very different light once the history behind them is revealed. Your comparison is a compliment to her. Thanks again.

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on October 12, 2018:

Interesting poem. When I read it first, I never thought it was about the plight of slaves to the North. It was only when I read the explanation that I read through it again and appreciated it even more.

Shannon Henry (author) from Texas on October 12, 2018:

Thanks, Eric. So glad you enjoyed it.

Shannon Henry (author) from Texas on October 12, 2018:

Thanks, Zulma. She's got a talent for humor, too. She used to come home telling me about these sentences she'd come up with for writing at school. The class would be given a certain grammar structure to use in a sentence. Then the teacher would read them all out loud to the class. Her sentences were usually quite humorous. The class never had to ask who wrote it when hers was read out loud. Her teacher had good things to say about her talent, too.

Shannon Henry (author) from Texas on October 12, 2018:

Thanks, Pamela. She writes when she has to. Not so much for fun. LOL. I'd like to see her do it more often, but I wouldn't push her to do something she doesn't want to do and make her not like it at all.

Shannon Henry (author) from Texas on October 12, 2018:

Thanks, Bill. She does seem to have a talent for it, but she doesn't seem all that interested in it. She's got a flair for drama, too, and wants to do theater or drama classes next year when it's allowed. And she's started band this year so we'll see how that goes. It's an age of discovering interests and hobbies, I guess. I'll encourage her in whatever her interests are. :)

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on October 12, 2018:

What a really cool article/poem. Very interesting about the code.

Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon from United Kingdom on October 12, 2018:

This is wonderful. Sounds like she's got your talent for writing. :D

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on October 12, 2018:

I think that is an outstanding poem for a 4th grader. I hope she did keep on writing.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on October 12, 2018:

Your daughter has game, Shannon! I'm sure you encourage her to keep on writing, which she should.

Shannon Henry (author) from Texas on October 12, 2018:

Thanks, Maria! I wish I had a copy if a poem she wrote the year before she did this one. It was about teeth andnwas super cute. Her teacher thought she copied it off the internet or got help. She did neither. The only thing that I did was help her think of a rhyme for one line.

Shannon Henry (author) from Texas on October 12, 2018:

Hi, Rinita. She's in 6th grade now. But I remember when she did this assignment because I had to help her look up the codewords for her to choose from.

Shannon Henry (author) from Texas on October 12, 2018:

Thanks, John. I am way late posting it. We moved so I tucked it away in a writing folder I have and we both forgot about it. I found it yesterday while going through papers. Just showed her these comments. She forgot writing it until she read it. LOL. Must not have been a favorite assignment.

Maria Jordan from Jeffersonville PA on October 12, 2018:

The writing gene runs in your family, Shannon.

Very impressive work from your little girl!

Rinita Sen on October 12, 2018:

This is by a 4th grader? I mean, wow! Would have never known unless mentioned. Please convey my best regards to your daughter. She's brilliant!

John Hansen from Queensland Australia on October 11, 2018:

This was a well-written poem by your daughter, Shannon, and the fact it contains code words used at the time makes it even better. Thanks for the explanation of what they stand for...it is easy to understand the hidden message then.