Second Class Wait Here

The original text of this poem was published in Henry Lawson’s book Verses Popular and Humorous, Angus and Robertson, Sydney, 1900.


Second Class Wait Here
by Henry Lawson

ON suburban railway stations — you may see them as you pass
There are signboards on the platforms saying, ‘Wait here second class;’
And to me the whirr and thunder and the cluck of running gear
Seem to be for ever saying, saying ‘Second class wait here’ —
‘Wait here second class,
Second class wait here.’
Seem to be for ever saying, saying ‘Second class wait here.’

And the second class were waiting, in the days of serf and prince,
And the second class are waiting — they’ve been waiting ever since.
There are gardens in the background, and the line is bare and drear,
Yet they wait beneath a signboard, sneering ‘Second class wait here.’

I have waited oft in winter, in the mornings dark and damp,
When the asphalt platform glistened underneath the lonely lamp.
Ghastly on the brick-faced cutting ‘Sellum’s Soap’ and ‘Blower’s Beer;’
Ghastly on enamelled signboards with their Second class wait here.

And the others seemed like burglars, slouched and muffled to the throats,
Standing round apart and silent in their shoddy overcoats,
And the wind among the wires, and the poplars bleak and bare,
Seemed to be for ever snarling, snarling ‘Second class wait there.’

Out beyond the further suburb, ’neath a chimney stack alone,
Lay the works of Grinder Brothers, with a platform of their own;
And I waited there and suffered, waited there for many a year,
Slaved beneath a phantom signboard, telling our class to wait here.

Ah! a man must feel revengeful for a boyhood such as mine.
God! I hate the very houses near the workshop by the line;
And the smell of railway stations, and the roar of running gear,
And the scornful-seeming signboards, saying ‘Second class wait here.’

There’s a train with Death for driver, which is ever going past,
And there are no class compartments, and we all must go at last
To the long white jasper platform with an Eden in the rear;
And there won’t be any signboards, saying ‘Second class wait here.’

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