The railroad track is miles away,
And the day is loud with voices speaking,
Yet there isn’t a train goes by all day
But I hear its whistle shrieking.

All night there isn’t a train goes by,
Though the night is still for sleep and dreaming,
But I see its cinders red on the sky,
And hear its engine steaming.

My heart is warm with friends I make,
And better friends I’ll not be knowing;
Yet there isn’t a train I’d rather take,
No matter where it’s going.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Edna St. Vincent Millay's poem Travel


  1. Amanda says:

    i see it as if the persona is trapped and wants to get out, she would take any train anywhere she could to get out. Also the persona cannot stop thinking about the train because they cannot stop thinking or wishing of how to get out. That is how i interpreted it.

  2. Jean says:

    I read this poem as adventurous, like she was wanting to get out and she would go anywhere the train took her

  3. Robert C. Davey says:

    One further comment: When my wife and I moved to St. Louis from Oberlin so that I could do grad. work in Political Science at Washington University I found an apartment at 5877 Nina Place, St. Louis 12 (pre-zipcode). The mainline of the Wabash ran in a cutting right behind our apartment. I could watch many great trains, including The Wabash Cannonball and The Detroit Limited. We used both trains to get home to Michigan. We got off at Adrian. But enough! Millay again for sure.

  4. Robert C. Davey says:

    The mainline of the Michigan Central ran right back of my high school. Every school day I heard The Wolverine (#17) go to Chicago from New York, The Michigan (#355) go to Chicago from Detroit. About the time school dismissed The New York Special (#44) went by from Chicago to New York. You can hear that train called out in Hitchcock’s “North By Northwest.” We cheered when we heard “Jackson” at the Michigan Theatre in the old hometown (where we still live). So, I like the poem because it’s about friends and trains and wishing I were on my way to the Windy
    City rather than in Chemistry Class. One can get rather too deep about literature! I am posting this from Houston, TX. I came here on what’s left of The Wolverine service and on The Texas Eagle (bus from Longview to Houston). We live in degraded times! No cinders, no steam, and a BUS to finish the journey. Good grief!

  5. Gordon says:

    I do feel a love of Trains and the sheer magic of Train Travel. I think the sadness may come from not a lack of personal fulfillment but from simply missing travelling on the train. Perhaps you have to be a train travel enthusiast to feel this.

  6. Mallory says:

    I’ve always seen the poem as more hopeful than that–that the narrarator wants to take every opportunity to follow there dreams, I never saw it as a sort of resigned, given-up-on-dreams feeling. That’s interesting.

  7. Sam says:

    This poem always gives me the incredible feeling that the narrator feels as though they have missed out on their dreams. Now they are stuck, content, but stuck and their forgotten and missed dreams are manifest in the form of an imaginary train that never comes.

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