My Dream of the Hell-Bound Train

Cincinnati, Ohio

(My grandmother gave me this poem some thirty years ago. I had
my wife copy it and felt you might like to publish it in the Album.
It is as true today as then.) Richard Carmel, 6510 Arborcrest
Drive, Loveland, Ohio 45140

I lay down one night on a bar-room floor
Having drunk so much I could drink no more.

So I fell asleep with a troubled brain,
To dream that I rode on a hell-bound train.

The engine with blood was red and damp,
And brilliantly lit by a brimstone lamp:
An imp for fuel was shoveling bones,
While the furnace rang with a thousands groans,
The boiler was filled with whiskey and beer,
And the Devil himself was the engineer.

The passengers made such a motley crew
Church members, atheist, Gentile and Jew,
Rich men in broadcloth and beggars in rags,
Handsome young ladies and withered old hags.
Yellow and black men, red, brown and white,
And all chained together – a horrible sight.
While the train dashed on at an awful pace,
And a hot wind scorched them on hand and face
Wilder and wilder the country grew,
As faster and faster the engine flew.
Louder and louder the thunder crashed,
And brighter and brighter the lightning flashed.

Hotter and hotter the air became,
Till the clothes were burnt from each quivering frame
Then in the distance there rose such a yell
Ha! Ha! Croaked the Devil, we’re nearing hell.

Then oh! How the passengers shrieked with pain
And begged of the Devil to stop the train!
But he capered about and sang with glee,
And laughed and joked at their agony.

My faithful friends, you have done my work,
And the Devil can never a pay-day shirk.

You have bullied the weak, you have robbed the poor
And the starving brother turned from your door;
You have laid up gold where canker rusts,
And given free vent to your worldly lusts:
You have justice scorned and corruption sown,
And trampled the laws of nature down;
You have drunk and rioted, murdered and lied,
And mocked at God in your hell-born pride
You have paid full fare, so I’ll carry you thru;
For it’s only right you should get your due:
Why the laborer always expects his hire;
So I’ll land you safe in the lake of fire,
Where your flesh shall roast in the flames that roar
And my imps torment you more and more.

Just then the train with a horrible hiss,
Dashed over the precipice, down the abyss;
And plunging and crashing and dropping it fell
To the awful depths of a fearful hell.

Then I awoke with an agonized cry,
My clothes soaked with sweat, my hair standing high,
And I prayed as I never prayed before
To be saved from drink and the Devil’s power;
And my prayers and cries were not made in vain,
For I never more rode on the hell-bound train.

Men don’t believe in a Devil now,
As their fathers used to do!
They have opened the door of the widest creed
To let his majesty through,
And there isn’t a print of his cloven foot,
To be found in earth or air today,
For the world has voted it so.

Who dogs the steps of the toiling saint?
Who digs the pit for his feet?
Who sows the tares in the field of time
Where God sows the wheat?
The Devil is voted not to be,
And of course the thing is true
But who is doing the terrible work
Which the Devil alone should do?

Won’t somebody step to the front forthwith,
And make his bow and show
How the frauds and crimes of a single day
Spring up? We’d like to know.

The Devil is voted not to be,
And of course the Devil’s gone,
But simple people would like to know
Who carries his business on?

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