Skip to main content

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

Related Articles