Welcome back! I know my blog entries on here are pretty diverse, but I kinda like it that way! Today, I've got a collaboration with writer Heather Stewart for you, and it features her poem The Ghost Train, illustrated by me.
Remember my Switzerland Sketchbook blog post? Well, I ventured to Switzerland with Heather, and while I was drawing, she was capturing the atmosphere in writing. While Iseltwald can be very serene and beautiful, it can also be creepily ominous - like when the clouds hang low across the lake at dusk, or when you hear the cry of a bird of prey (I believe it was a Red Kite). Another contributing factor to the spooky atmosphere was this howling sound that reverberated around the mountains every day at different times, without any visual clue as to where it came from. I joked that it was 'the ghost train' and it stuck. I feel that Heather's poem captures the atmosphere beautifully with great imagination. I wanted my illustrations to reflect the content of the text in that, you never see the train, just the trail of ghost like smoke left behind in its wake, and to set this against the Iseltwald landscape from memory.
If you want to read more of Heather's work, you can visit her fantastic site (also home to her highly amusing blog) here: www.hl-stewart.com
T H E G H O S T T R A I N
by Heather Stewart
You can hear it every morning, at almost ten past two,
But nobody ever actually sees
The ghost train passing through.
Its horn is high and howling, its melody is blue,
The echoes last long after
The ghost train has passed through.
There are broken railings and charred sleepers where grass grew,
That are all that’s left of where
The old track once passed through.
Clouds must carry the carriages and the engines too,
For none that boarded ever left
The Golden Budding Yew.
Now the valley lies abandoned, the flowers there are few,
Even the birds left behind
The paths that they once flew,
Because every greying morning, before the leaves are blessed with dew,
There comes a sound that shrills the ear with a haunting lonely hue.
A hundred souls a-dying, each night they die anew,
And the hills and stars all witness
The chilling déjà vu.
For when the day is failing, and the moon is glowing new,
You can hear a blind track shying,
And the ghost train passing through.
Illustrations in India Ink, Acrylic Ink, pencil and chinagraph by Hannah Farthing.