STUDY AIDS : IN POPULAR CULTURE
Alexander Anderson (from Ballads and Sonnets )
Anderson likens the creation of the "fire engine" to that of "the monster of Frankenstein's."
"On fire-horses and wind-horses we
Hurrah! for the mighty engine,
As he bounds along his track:
the life that is in him,
And his breath so thick and black.
And hurrah for our
fellows, who in their need
Could fashion a thing like him—
a heart of fire, and a soul of steel,
And a Samson in every limb.
Ho! stand from that narrow path of his,
Lest his gleaming muscles smite,
flaming sword the archangel drew
When Eden lay wrapp'd in night;
For he cares, not
he, for a paltry life
As he rushes along to the goal,
It but costs him a shake of
his iron limb,
And a shriek from his mighty soul.
Yet I glory to think that I help to keep
His footsteps a little in place,
thunders his thanks as he rushes on
In the lightning speed of his race;
think that he knows when he looks at me,
That, though made of clay as I stand,
could make him as weak as a three hours' child
With a paltry twitch of my hand.
But I trust in his strength, and he trusts in me,
Though made but of brittle clay,
While he is bound up in the toughest of steel,
That tires not night or day;
for ever flashes, and stretches, and strives,
While he shrieks in his smoky
Hurrah for the puppets that, lost in their thoughts,
the lamp for me!
O that some Roman—when Rome was great—
Some quick, light
Greek or two—
Could come from their graves for one half-hour
what my fellows can do;
I would take them with me on this world's wild steed,
give him a little rein;
Then rush with his clanking hoofs through space,
wreath of smoke for his mane.
I would say to them as they shook in their fear,
"Now what is your paltry book,
the Phidian touch of the chisel's point,
That can make the marble look,
monster of ours, that for ages lay
In the depths of the dreaming earth,
brought him out with a cheer and a shout,
And hammer'd him into birth?"
Clank, clank went the hammer in dusty shops,
The forge-flare went to the sky,
While still, like the monster of Frankenstein's,
This great wild being was
Till at length he rose up in his sinew and strength,
And our fellows
could see with pride
Their grimy brows and their bare, slight arms,
In the depths
of his glancing side.
Then there rose to their lips a dread question of fear—
"Who has in him
the nerve to start
In this mass a soul that will shake and roll
A river of life to
Then a pigmy by jerks went up his side,
Flung a globe of fire in his
And cities leapt nearer by hundreds of miles
At the first wild snort from
Then away he rush'd to his mission of toil,
Wherever lay guiding rods,
work he could do at each throb of his pulse
Flung a blush on the face of the gods.
And Atlas himself, when he felt his weight,
Bent lower his quaking limb,
shook himself free from this earth, and left
The grand old planet to him.
But well can he bear it, this Titan of toil,
When his pathway yields to his tread;
And the vigour within him flares up to its height,
Till the smoke of his breath grows
Then he shrieks in delight, as an athlete might,
When he reaches his wild
And from head to heel, through each muscle of steel,
Runs the cunning and
clasp of the fire.
Or, see how he tosses aside the night,
And roars in his thirsty wrath,
one great eye gleams white with rage
At the darkness that muffles his path;
lo! as the pent-up flame of his heart
Flashes out from behind its bars,
like a bolt flung from heaven, and rears
A ladder of light to the stars.
Talk of the sea flung back in its wrath
By a line of unyielding stone,
slender clutch of a thread-like bridge,
That knits two valleys in one!
your miracle-working wires,
And their world-embracing force,
give me the bits of steel
In the mouth of the thunder-horse!
Ay, give me the beat of his fire-fed breast,
And the shake of his giant frame,
the sinews that work like the shoulders of Jove
When he launches a bolt of flame;
And give me that Lilliput rider of his,
Stout and wiry and grim,
Who can vault on
his back as he puffs his pipe,
And whisk the breath from him.
Then hurrah for our mighty engine, boys;
He may roar and fume along
For a hundred
years ere a poet arise
To shrine him in worthy song;
Yet if one with the touch of
the gods on his lips,
And his heart beating wildly and quick,
Should rush into
song at this demon of ours,
Let him sing, too, the shovel and pick.