Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Knoxville Streetcar

A poet looks at the streetcars of Knoxville:

People go by; things go by....  
A streetcar raising its iron moan; stopping, belling and starting; stertorous; rousing and raising again its iron increasing moan and swimming its gold windows and straw seats on past and past and past, the bleak spark crackling and cursing above it like a small malignant spirit set to dog its tracks; the iron whine rises on rising speed; still risen, faints ; halts, the faint stinging bell; rises again, still fainter, fainting, lifting, lifts, faints forgone: forgotten.
  Now is the night one blue dew.

From "A Death In the Family" by James Agee.  This passage was even set to music by Samuel Barber as part of his song "Knoxville: Summer of 1915". Your IRM Classical Music Department recommends the recording by Eleanor Steber with the composer conducting.


Anonymous said...

Shades of Ray Bradbury's description of the Green Town trolley in "Dandelion Wine".

David Wilkins said...

Not to be confused with "Knoxville Courthouse Blues" by Hank Williams Jr.