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Trains By Humayun Kabir


Mother, I sit by my window for hours on end
And watch the long trains rumble past.
Some are dark and journey tediously,
No doors, no windows, no shining lamps.
Slowly they move: like huge elephants
That move like shadows in the shadowy dark.

Rumble- to make a continuous low sound: Tediously- in a boring way that continues for a long time

Sometimes a train comes flashing past
With many windows lit by lamps
That dance and whirl with movement swift.
A marriage procession with music loud,
Shrill whistles that rise above the din
Or the rhythmic" beat of wheels revolving fast.

Flashing- to shine brightly and suddenly, or to make something shine in this way

On hot afternoons you go to sleep
And when dizzy heat swoons all the world,
Even the crows doze and forget to caw,
The dog lies in the shade with hanging tongue,
I watch for hours and still the tireless trains
March on and on along their iron road.


Swoons- to feel a lot of pleasurelove, etc. because of something or someone

Doze- to have a short sleep, especially during the day

Sometimes at night in my sleep I hear
The low distant rumble of the train;
I rub my eyes and sit upon my bed
And beneath the light of the flickering moon
Moves the long shadowy outline far away
Like a huge serpent crawling through the night.

Serpent- a snake

Where do all those trains go day and night?
You say they bore their way through the hills,
They roar over bridges across mighty streams,
They crash through forests and vast plains,
But at the end of their restless journeying
Where do they go and finally take rest?

Mighty- very large, powerful, or important


Life is a kind of journey where a person feels excited as well as tired. The poem ‘Trains’ expresses this idea convincingly. In the poem, the poet is imaginatively engaged in observing the trains which move tediously towards their destiny without rest. He wonders where the trains come from and where they go.

About The Poet – Humayun Kabir
Humayun Kabir belongs to the pre-independence era when freedom struggle was in its full swing and a sense of revolt was sprayed in the air against the colonists. Humayun Kabir is not only recognized as a poet but also as an essayist, philosopher, administrator and parliamentarian. Apart from this, he was also a member of Sahitya Academy and the President of All India Writer’s Convention, Delhi, in 1956. He had been the Minister of Education and was actively connected with Bengal’s politics as a leader of a newly formed party.

Life and Literary Career:

Humayun Kabir was born in a Bengali Muslim family in the year 1906. He graduated from Exeter College, Oxford in 1931. After his return from abroad, he took to teaching as his profession. He taught philosophy first at the Andhra University and later at Calcutta University.


Through this poem, the poet wants to say that life is a journey. Trains move tediously day and night facing different terrains. They keep moving until they reach their destination. Human beings also come across hindrances and challenges in life. But they should not give up or feel helpless. ‘The only impossible journey is the one you never begin.’


In the first section, the poet tells his mother that he sits by his window and enjoys watching the trains for a long time. He observes that some trains are dark and move tiresomely. Actually, he sees goods trains which are without windows, doors and lamps. In fact, the goods trains carry a lot of things which make their movement slow. He compares the goods trains to huge elephants because both a herd of elephants and the wagons of goods trains are huge in size and move slowly one after the other. They move like dark figures at night. He feels that the trains get tired of running. He is not aware that they run on engines. He describes the running trains as per his experience.

In the second section, he talks about a passenger train which comes at great speed with flashing lights. It has lots of windows and is well-lit too. The lamps dance and flick with prompt movement as the train moves fast. The passenger train seems to be a wedding procession to him because it has bright lights and loud music. The shrill whistle of the train rises above the sound of the revolving wheels. 

In the third section, the poet gives a very authentic picture of a hot afternoon when everyone goes to sleep. Not only human beings but crows and dogs also take rest in shade, yet the train marches on and on along its iron road. To stay indoors or to cool oneself in the shade is a preference for all.

In the fourth section, we see that sometimes at night he hears the low distant rumble of the train. He rubs his eyes and sits upon his bed and far away he sees a long train moving like a huge serpent crawling through the night.

In the fifth section the poet says that he has heard from his mother that trains move on their way through hills, roar over bridges, cross mighty streams, crash through forests and vast plains. He wonders at the end of their restless travelling where do they go and finally rest.

Questions and Answers

Test Yourself

Ans: The poet is so fascinated by the trains that he never leaves an opportunity to watch them from his window. While watching them constantly running on the iron road, he at times feels pity for them because he feels that they have been running on the rails for a long time. He seems to be so innocent and unaware of the fact that engines pull the trains ahead. He feels that their job is tedious and nerve-wracking. 

Ans: When the poet hears the distant rumbling sound of the train in the middle of the night, then he compares it to a huge serpent that loves to crawl in the darkness of the night so that no one comes to know of its presence. Similarly, the trains too quietly rumble through the area, beneath the light of the flickering moon.

Ans: The poet seems to be quite inquisitive to know the whereabouts of the trains. He compares them to human beings and wonders about their tedious nature of work. He seems to be clueless about their final resting place and so questions his mother to address his confusion, inquiring about their place of relaxation. Hence the poem ends in a question.

Yes, I find trains fascinating because of the long journeys it made every day. In hot afternoons, when everyone sleeps, they continue with their journey. They go to bridges, hills, forests and vast plains. They continue with their journey day and night. That is why I find trains fascinating.

Answer: The speaker sits at his window and watches the trains go by.

Answer: The speaker compares the goods train with a huge elephant because the goods train move slowly and do not have doors, windows and shining lamps.

Answer: The speaker describes the hot weather as dizzy heat making the world faint. Even the crows are so tired that they can’t caw and dogs sit with their tongue hanging out due to thirst. Thus, the weather is very tiring.

Answer: The trains are tireless because they keep running day and night.

Answer: The trains go through the hills, over bridges and across streams. They move fast through the forest and over vast plains also.

Ans.- The line, “I sit by my window for hours on end” gives us the information that the child loves watching the trains passing by that it doesn’t move from that place for a long time.

Ans.- The child watches different kinds of train plying very fast.

Ans.- In the first stanza, the child watches the goods train passing.  It had no lights, doors  and windows for the passengers.

Ans.- The passenger train is mentioned in the second stanza.

Ans.- Second is the passenger train which is filled with people and lights; windows open etc. than the first one. 

Ans.- The child describes the sound of the train to the rhythmic beat of  music.

Ans.- The rhythmic beat of the wheels.