About Terminates Here - Following Auden's Night Mail Train.txt (Size: 62.38 MB) (Files: 9)
About Terminates Here - Following Auden's Night Mail Train.txt
About the GPO Film - Night Mail (1936).txt
Terminates Here - Following Auden's Night Mail Train 1 of 5.mp3
Terminates Here - Following Auden's Night Mail Train 2 of 5.mp3
Terminates Here - Following Auden's Night Mail Train 3 of 5.mp3
Terminates Here - Following Auden's Night Mail Train 4 of 5.mp3
Terminates Here - Following Auden's Night Mail Train 5 of 5.mp3
Terminates Here - Following Auden's Night Mail Train.nfo
WH Auden - Night Mail (text of the poem).txt
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Last spring the Wigan-born British- Ethiopian poet Lemn Sissay followed in the footsteps of Auden's and Benjamin Britten's 1936 GPO public information film, Night Mail, looking for the stories of the individuals who travel and work on the railway today - the human "mail".
"This is the Night Mail, crossing the border/ Bringing the cheque and the postal order," wrote Auden, mimicking the rhythm of the train with his verse. In Terminates Here on Radio 4, Sissay responds, "There's no mail train these days, Mr Auden, but that doesn't mean the railway's without its story."
His journey begins at Euston in "the witching hour", close to midnight, as a "boozy crowd" awaits the arrival of the Caledonian sleeper on a freezing platform. The sleeper still follows the same route as Auden's Night Mail, from London to Glasgow. Sissay makes crafty use of words. Whereas the railway's "men long gone" were "Woodbined and Brylcreemed", today's station scene is one of cappuccinos burning hands in polystyrene cups, and wheelie cases clacking at heels.
This is excellent radio documentary work, particularly the railway soundscape, which was one of the great attractions of the original GPO film.
The film was almost 30 minutes long, and you can watch 3 minutes or so on YouTube to get the visual feel here:
Perhaps you are not particularly interested in Auden, listen to this for the railroad nostalgia; or if you aren't interested in trains, listen for the poetry or the social history. And, if you come across a DVD copy of the 1936 film, watch that, too.