The Train of Life: A Poignant Funeral Poem by James Tippett



The Train of Life: A Poignant Funeral Poem by James Tippett


We are all familiar with the idea that life is a journey. This concept is eloquently expanded upon in the poem “The Train of Life” by James Tippett. Using the clever analogy of a train ride, Tippett symbolises how people come and go throughout our lives, and how we should treat everyone with respect and kindness. This poem is a perfect choice for the funeral of railway enthusiasts, offering a comforting and relatable reflection on life’s transitory nature.

The Train of Life by James Tippett


At birth, we board the train and meet our parents, and we believe they will always travel by our side.

As time goes by, other people will board the train; and they will be significant i.e. our siblings, friends, children, and even the love of your life.

However, at some station our parents will step down from the train, leaving us on this journey alone.

Others will step down over time and leave a permanent vacuum.

Some, however, will go so unnoticed that we don’t realise they vacated their seats.

This train ride will be full of joy, sorrow, fantasy, expectations, hellos, goodbyes, and farewells.

Success consists of having a good relationship with all passengers requiring that we give the best of ourselves.

The mystery to everyone is: We do not know at which station we ourselves will step down.

So, we must live in the best way, love, forgive, and offer the best of who we are.

It is important to do this because when the time comes for us to step down and leave our seat empty, we should leave behind beautiful memories for those who will continue to travel on the train of life.


Analysis of “The Train of Life”

“The Train of Life” by James Tippett is a poignant reflection on the human experience, using the metaphor of a train journey to illustrate the inevitable comings and goings in our lives. From the moment we are born and board the train, we are accompanied by our parents, who we assume will always be there. However, as time progresses, they and others will disembark at various stations, leaving us to continue our journey.

The poem captures the essence of life’s transience and the importance of cherishing every moment and relationship. Tippett’s analogy of the train emphasises the idea that success is not about material achievements but about forming meaningful connections and treating others with kindness and respect. The uncertainty of when we will step down from the train serves as a reminder to live fully and authentically, ensuring that when our time comes, we leave behind a legacy of beautiful memories.

This poem is particularly resonant for funerals, offering solace and a profound perspective on loss and remembrance. It is especially fitting for railway enthusiasts, as the train metaphor aligns with their passion, making it a heartfelt tribute.


“The Train of Life” by James Tippett is a timeless piece that beautifully encapsulates the journey of life and its many passengers. It encourages us to value our relationships and live with love and forgiveness. Share this poem with those who may find comfort in its words, and always remember to credit the author.


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All the poems I share on my website or social media are often found in the public domain and are sometimes used at funerals.

Wherever known, I do give credit and thanks to the author.

If you know the author of any I have marked as ‘unknown’, then let me know, and I will amend the page.

If you chose to share or use the poetry at a funeral or memorial service, please give the author credit.

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See the list of other Poems for Funerals