Ode to a Railroad Station | Letters | Chicago Reader

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Ode to a Railroad Station


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To the editors:

I enjoyed Peter Friederici's article on John Wells very much in today's issue [Calendar, August 11], and I look forward to seeing Mr. Wells' railroad photos at the Public Library Cultural Center.

The article reminded me, of course, of Brassai, the great Rumanian-born photographer of old Paris. One of Brassai's closest friends and companions on his all-night wanderings was the Parisian poet Leon-Paul Fargue. Fargue wrote a poem called "The Train Station" (La Gare). I tried to render the last 11 lines in English, and I'd like you to look them over. Maybe it helps to explain that fascination which the night and city scenes hold for some of us:

Station of my youth and of my solitude

Which the storm saluted now and then at great length,

I shall have long recognized your manholes and your stairways,

Your soaked openings, your frigid cries, your toothings,

I have followed your wayfarers, I have doubled your departures,

Standing against a pillar, I shall have taken part in it all

Just as I stumble against the bumper of the dead-end track,

At the hour when the steam had to be reversed

And let me kiss on its square mouth

The reddish somber mask which will take on my impression

With the long cry adieu of your closed portals.

I hope some of the feeling came through. Thanks for the article.

James Loverde

N. Clark

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