Summary and Critical Appreciation of “The Express” by Stephen Spender

1. Summary and Critical Appreciation of “The Express” by Stephen Spender
The poem, “The Express” is actually about a train that travels through different areas and reaches its destination going through different processes. The poet uses the train as a symbol of industrial civilization. The poet has also personified it as a queen.
The poet starts the poem with the details of how it starts its journey making the movements like a queen. He says that it starts its movement from a station. The way it starts moving has been compared to the movement of a queen. Discussing the royal majestic style of the starting movement of the train, the poet further says that it does not bow and does not have concern with anything i.e. “Without bowing and with restrained unconcerned.” It passes by the houses, the gas works and the graveyards. All the things it passes by line up in the same way, as the crowd of the people lines up to welcome the queen.
            Then, the poet says that the train becomes a mystery when it is out of town and enters the countryside. It starts singing which has a special movement. Sometimes it becomes slow and sometimes too noisy to hear it. The wheels of the train move as if they had been moving in the air. Here the touch of modern romantic poetry is very obvious. The contrast of romantic poetry against the old romantic poetry is also very obvious. The Romantics find peace of mind when they are in the lap of nature. The train also becomes majestic and mysterious hen it enters the countryside.  
     Further the poet says that the train gets new experiences as it passes by strange shapes and broad curves. Its movement never seems to stop and even no one can dare stop its movement. It goes beyond the limits and one finds it beyond England and even out of England and in the end beyond the world. When it is in the darkness, it creates brightness to illuminate the hills it comes across and the darkness prevailing in the world.
            Then, the poet compares the train to a flaming comet in the sky. He makes comparison between the music it creates and the music of a bird’s song. Here the element of romanticism is very obvious. We can say that the train is a true romantic subject introduced by Stephen Spender.                                                                                                                                                                       (Words: 391)


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