When we were children, you and I, sometimes in bed we used to lie and listen to the whistling trains that rolled their way across the plains and over mountains, rivers, too, and crossed the oceans (for all we knew). Their hollow hooting seemed to be alluring, filled with mystery. It summoned us to go with them to Babylon or Bethlehem and be prophet, prodigal or seer in cities. Pastoral among our herds, in self-distrust, we named our longing wanderlust and, believing all things good and right came of living on the land, we were able to withstand the calls that pierced the lonely night.
Now, in another age, we know why, how far, and where trains go and read no promises of fame, of destiny, or sin, or shame into their calls. Yet, to this year, this very hour, when I hear the whistles, sad, insistent, sharp, my heart trembles like a harp!