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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.
The Library of the World’s Best Literature. An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

George Washington Cutter (1801?–1865)

Song of Steam

HARNESS me down with your iron bands,

Be sure of your curb and rein,

For I scorn the strength of your puny hands

As the tempest scorns a chain.

How I laughed, as I lay concealed from sight

For many a countless hour,

At the childish boast of human might,

And the pride of human power!

When I saw an army upon the land,

A navy upon the seas,

Creeping along, a snail-like band,

Or waiting the wayward breeze;

When I marked the peasant faintly reel,

With the toil that he daily bore,

As he feebly turned the tardy wheel,

Or tugged at the weary oar;

When I measured the panting courser’s speed,

The flight of the carrier dove,

As they bore the law a king decreed,

Or the lines of impatient love;—

I could but think how the world would feel,

As these were outstripped afar,

When I should be bound to the rushing keel,

Or chained to the flying car!

Ha! ha! ha! they found me at last;

They invited me forth at length:

And I rushed to my throne with a thunder-blast,

And laughed in my iron strength:

Oh! then ye saw a wondrous change

On the earth and ocean wide,

Where now my fiery armies range,

Nor wait for wind or tide.

Hurrah! hurrah! the waters o’er,

The mountain’s steep decline;

Time, space, have yielded to my power,

The world—the world is mine!

The rivers the sun hath earliest blest,

Or those where his beams decline,

The giant streams of the queenly West,

Or the Orient floods divine.

The Ocean pales wherever I sweep,

To hear my strength rejoice;

And monsters of the briny deep

Cower, trembling, at my voice.

I carry the wealth of the lord of earth,

The thoughts of his godlike mind;

The wind lags after my going forth,

The lightning is left behind.

In the darksome depths of the fathomless mine,

My tireless arm doth play,

Where the rocks ne’er saw the sun’s decline,

Or the dawn of the glorious day;

I bring earth’s glittering jewels up

From the hidden caves below,

And I make the fountain’s granite cup

With a crystal gush o’erflow.

I blow the bellows, I forge the steel,

In all the shops of trade;

I hammer the ore, and turn the wheel

Where my arms of strength are made;

I manage the furnace, the mill, the mint,

I carry, I spin, I weave;

And all my doings I put in print

On every Saturday eve.

I’ve no muscles to weary, no brains to decay,

No bones to be “laid on the shelf”;

And soon I intend you may “go and play,”

While I manage the world myself.

But harness me down with your iron bands;

Be sure of your curb and rein;

For I scorn the strength of your puny hands,

As the tempest scorns a chain.