The Song of Steam

Harness me down with your iron bands ;
Be sure of your curb and rein,
For I scorn the power 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
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 which he daily bore,
As he feebly turned at 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 not 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 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 mountains 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 where'er I sweep,
To hear my strength rejoice,
And the monsters of the briny deep
Cower, trembling at my voice.
I carry the wealth and the lord of earth,
The thoughts of the god-like mind ;
The wind lags after my flying forth,
The lightening is left behind.

In the darksome depths of the fathomless mine
My tireless arm doth play,
Where the rocks never saw the sun decline,
Or the dawn of the glorious day.
I bring earth's glittering jewels up
From the hidden cave below,
And I make the fountain's granite cups
With a crystal gush overflow.

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 into print
On every Saturday eve.

I've no muscle to weary, no breast to decay,
No bones to be "laid on the shelf,"
And soon I intend you may "go and play,"
While I manage the world by 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.
—American Paper.


Words by Captain C. W. Cutter – The song was set to music and published D. Anderson, OH, 1850 – Library of Congress

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