The Machines Won

Where has the slow train gone
It used to pass through romantically named stations
Kirby Muxloe and Millers Dale
Beeching did for them
Like steam trains
Left to decay
Some are restored
For sightseeing day trippers to marvel at
Now silent trains run through ribbons of houses
On either side of the track
Named Pete Seeger Avenue
Eyes search in vain for Norman church towers
And medieval steeples
There are no thatched houses
Or oak beamed pubs
Nestling amongst fields of yellow and green
And crops of golden barley
To brew pints of fine English ale
They are all gone
Our heritage has been overrun with housing
Captain Swing is buried here
Under the land he tried to save
Waiting for the call
No one told him
The machines won
Swing sleeps on uneasily like King Arthur before him
Excalibur has been returned to the lake
All just footnotes in history books
But not to all of us
The rest get their fix through television auction programmes
And raise the price of wooden ploughs
And scythes and hoes
Made by craftsmen
Used by men who farmed the earth
They live on as window dressing in clothing boutiques
And hung on the walls of City centre pubs
Go tell the poets
The machines won.

For more on the slow train see my article on Flanders and Swann and links to their other music.

Listen to Pete Seeger’s Little Boxes and more on Amazon here.

The definitive Captain Swing by Rude and Hobsbawn

The legend of King Arthur

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