A blasphemous horde of poachers and drinkers
the big money had spawned, they dug their way
through rocks and sodden clay. Camped out like tinkers,
only the brass was missed when they picked up sticks,
following the line to another day
of mindless graft, squalor, suspicious looks.
From those whose curtained lives they did not share,
they earned scant praise for laying down the future.
In an age of Progress they were its nomads,
shaping it slowly barrow by barrow
wherever work might lead them: country lads
and migrants, their mumbles hard to follow –
who thought of them at all when the band played
and folk clutched tickets for which they had paid?