Hermes, lord of travellers,
patron of journeying,
lord of that moment when
the destination is still distant
but it is much too far to go back
where voyager and voyage become one.
Yours are the places through which travellers pass;
roads, airports, harbours, railway stations,
the places that are all one place
that touch each other more closely than
the lands they pass through.
Your realm can be seen moving
stretching itself over the world
at the moment when motion becomes journey.
Your oracles are written in doubled steel rails,
in the curves and byways of the open road,
the fading wake written on water,
the white flourishes of contrails.
who watches our setting out and our returning,
grant me safe journey and timely arrival.
Protect me from accident.
Hold me in your hand as I voyage in your kingdom,
let me travel hopefully.
Let the moments that pass on my way
be those that I will remember kindly
at the very least because they will be funny
once they are safely behind me.
Let the journey unfold to me
its chance encounters
with people and landscape.
Help me be open to them.
Preserve me from long delays,
from engineering work, road resurfacing,
high winds on the ocean,
rescheduling, bad timetables,
strikes of baggage handlers.
Do not condemn me to coaches,
strand me in sidings,
leave me stalled at the roadside.
Let me move through your realm to come home at last.
And thank you, great Hermes,
thank you for that fortuitous steam train,
moving in power and simplicity
as sure in its strength and pride
as when Victoria our queen was young,
the great black whistling engine,
puffing past my platform
through this your arched and pillared
glass-roofed and candy-striped shrine,
this junction and nexus of your power
where, over so many years, on so many journeys,
I have changed, and changed, and changed again,
your temple and station of Crewe.
1 July 2001, Platform 12, Crewe Station.