A few more inches to a coral reef.
(Texts above from American Sonnets)
Seven Wonders of the World
In boyhood's days we read with keen delight
How young Aladdin rubbed his lamp and raised
The towering Djin whose form his soul amazed,
Yet who was pledged to serve him day and night.
But Gutenberg evoked a giant sprite
Of vaster power, when Europe stood and gazed
To see him rub his types with ink. Then blazed
Across the lands a glorious shape of light,
Who stripped the cowl from priests, the crown from kings,
And hand in hand with Faith and Science wrought
To free the struggling spirit's limèd wings,
And guard the ancestral throne of sovereign Thought.
The world was dumb. Then first it found its tongue
And spake -- and heaven and earth in answer rung.
The Ocean Steamer
With streaming pennons, scorning sail and oar,
With steady tramp and swift revolving wheel,
And even pulse from throbbing heart of steel,
She plies her arrowy course from shore to shore.
In vain the siren calms her steps allure;
In vain the billows thunder on her keel;
Her giant form may toss and rock and reel
And shiver in the wintry tempest's roar;
The calms and storms alike her pride can spurn.
True to the day she keeps her appointed time.
Long leagues of ocean vanish at her stern --
She drinks the air, and tastes another clime,
Where men their former wonder fast unlearn,
Which hailed her coming as a thing sublime.
Whirling along its living freight, it came,
Hot, panting, fierce, yet docile to command --
The roaring monster, blazing through the land
Athwart the night, with crest of smoke and flame;
Like those weird bulls Medea learned to tame
By sorcery, yoked to plough the Colchian strand
In forced obedience under Jason's hand.
Yet modern skill outstripped this antique fame,
When o'er our plains and through the rocky bar
Of hills it pushed its ever-lengthening line
Of iron roads, with gain far more divine
Than when the daring Argonauts from far
Came for the golden fleece, which like a star
Hung clouded in the dragon-guarded shrine.
The Telegraph and Telephone
Fleeter than time, across the Continent,
Through unsunned ocean depths, from beach to beach,
Around the rolling globe Thought's couriers reach.
The new-tuned earth like some vast instrument
Tingles from zone to zone; for Art has lent
New nerves, new pulse, new motion -- all to each,
And each to all, in swift electric speech
Bound by a force unwearied and unspent.
Now lone Katahdin talks with Caucasus;
The Arctic ice-fields with the sultry South,
The sun-bathed palm thrills to the pine-tree's call.
We for all realms were made, and they for us.
For all there is a soul, an ear, a mouth;
And Time and Space are naught. The mind is all.
Phoebus Apollo, from Olympus driven,
Lived with Admetus, tending herds and flocks:
And strolling o'er the pastures and the rocks
He found his life much duller than in Heaven.
For he had left his bow, his songs, his lyre,
His divinations and his healing skill,
And as a serf obeyed his master's will.
One day a new thought waked an old desire.
He took to painting, with his colors seven,
The sheep, the cows, the faces of the swains,
All shapes and hues in forests and on plains.
These old sun-pictures all are lost, or given
Away among the gods. Man owns but half
The Sun-god's secret -- in the Photograph.
All honor to that keen Promethean soul
Who caught the prismic hues of Jove and Mars,
And from the glances of the dædal stars,
And from the fiery sun, the secret stole
That all are parts of one primeval Whole, --
One substance beaming through Creation's bars
Consent and peace, amid the chemic wars
Of gases and of atoms. Yonder roll
The planets; yonder, baffling human thought,
Suns, systems, all whose burning hearts are wooed
To one confession -- so hath Science caught
Those eye-beams frank, whose speech cannot delude, --
How of one stuff our mortal earth is wrought
With stars in their divine infinitude.
The small enlarged, the distant nearer brought
To sight, made marvels in a denser age.
But Science turns with every year a page
In the enchanted volume of her thought.
The wizard's wand no longer now is sought.
Yet with a cunning toy the Archimage
May hear from Rome Vesuvius' thunders rage,
And earthquake mutterings underground are caught,
Alike with trivial sounds. Would there might rise
Some spiritual seer, some prophet wise,
Whose tactile vision would avert the woes
Born of conflicting forces in the state; --
Some listener to the deep volcanic throes
Below the surface -- ere we cry, "Too late!"