Subway Song: Walt Whitman on the Downtown Express


There was absolutely nothing elegant about it – as Whitman wrote, “there is no sweetness joke of a weeping harp or glib piano”.To a Locomotive in Winter“But Subway in Summer was just as purposeful, wild, condescending, and audacious, only to speed up a few moments later, as if trying to brake even more emphatically. Looks and comfort didn’t matter: as always in New York, there were places to go, things to do. True, this train, unlike Whitman’s, did not belch smoke streamers, but it was equally “throbbing” and “jerky.”

Of course, no one was paying attention; All eyes were on mobile phones. Miracles often go unnoticed; Air travelers also ignore the clouds. But does anything ever slide so effortlessly under such a busy and cramped place? And 120 years later, did the brave workers go through all that schist to leave a mark?

Getting close about the subway is a native New Yorker’s birthright. But we are grateful Australians More than anything else, it embodies the freedom we escape to New York for fun, the freedom that Whitman celebrates, the freedom to be whoever you want, when you want, without being tied to someone else’s tastes, clocks, or cars. .

Few deals before dawn, as another poet once wrote, the streets of New York belong to the police and the doormat with the mop. But after filming their whole night once again, it’s the subway that brings that cop and janitor to work. Let’s face it: the city, or at least most of it, makes sleep. The subway was never built, at least until Covid. And now, as he descended into Times Square, he was coming back to life 24 hours a day.

I stayed on the train: I had taken three more steps under three civilizations, I still had to go. And I have free time there, because when it clicks, it makes even subway procrastinators punctual.

But I’m guessing Whitman will land in Times Square “letting and carefree.” As the conductor will hear you say, there was still a long way to go: A, E, and C; N, Q, R and W; Shuttle to Grand Central is downstairs 7, opposite platform 1 Or maybe he’d go upstairs to Bryant Park and write another poem – someone celebrating the return of the subway and the city.


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