Lola Ridge

(December 12, 1873- May 19, 1941 / Dublin)

The Song Of Iron


I

Not yet hast Thou sounded
Thy clangorous music,
Whose strings are under the mountains…
Not yet hast Thou spoken
The blooded, implacable Word…

But I hear in the Iron singing -
In the triumphant roaring of the steam and pistons pounding -
Thy barbaric exhortation…
And the blood leaps in my arteries, unreproved,
Answering Thy call…
All my spirit is inundated with the tumultuous passion of Thy Voice,
And sings exultant with the Iron,
For now I know I too am of Thy Chosen…

Oh fashioned in fire -
Needing flame for Thy ultimate word -
Behold me, a cupola
Poured to Thy use!

Heed not my tremulous body
That faints in the grip of Thy gauntlet.
Break it… and cast it aside…
But make of my spirit
That dares and endures
Thy crucible…
Pour through my soul
Thy molten, world-whelming song.

… Here at Thy uttermost gate
Like a new Mary, I wait…

II

Charge the blast furnace, workman…
Open the valves -
Drive the fires high…
(Night is above the gates).

How golden-hot the ore is
From the cupola spurting,
Tossing the flaming petals
Over the silt and furnace ash -
Blown leaves, devastating,
Falling about the world…

Out of the furnace mouth -
Out of the giant mouth -
The raging, turgid, mouth -
Fall fiery blossoms
Gold with the gold of buttercups
In a field at sunset,
Or huskier gold of dandelions,
Warmed in sun-leavings,
Or changing to the paler hue
At the creamy hearts of primroses.

Charge the converter, workman -
Tired from the long night?
But the earth shall suck up darkness -
The earth that holds so much…
And out of these molten flowers,
Shall shape the heavy fruit…

Then open the valves -
Drive the fires high,
Your blossoms nurturing.
(Day is at the gates
And a young wind…)

Put by your rod, comrade,
And look with me, shading your eyes…
Do you not see -
Through the lucent haze
Out of the converter rising -
In the spirals of fire
Smiting and blinding,
A shadowy shape
White as a flame of sacrifice,
Like a lily swaying?

III

The ore leaping in the crucibles,
The ore communicant,
Sending faint thrills along the leads…
Fire is running along the roots of the mountains…
I feel the long recoil of earth
As under a mighty quickening…
(Dawn is aglow in the light of the Iron…)
All palpitant, I wait…


IV

Here ye, Dictators - late Lords of the Iron,
Shut in your council rooms, palsied, depowered -
The blooded, implacable Word?
Not whispered in cloture, one to the other,
(Brother in fear of the fear of his brother…)
But chanted and thundered
On the brazen, articulate tongues of the Iron
Babbling in flame…

Sung to the rhythm of prisons dismantled,
Manacles riven and ramparts defaced…
(Hearts death-anointed yet hearing life calling…)
Ankle chains bursting and gallows unbraced…

Sung to the rhythm of arsenals burning…
Clangor of iron smashing on iron,
Turmoil of metal and dissonant baying
Of mail-sided monsters shattered asunder…

Hulks of black turbines all mangled and roaring,
Battering egress through ramparted walls…
Mouthing of engines, made rabid with power,
Into the holocaust snorting and plunging…

Mighty converters torn from their axis,
Flung to the furnaces, vomiting fire,
Jumbled in white-heaten masses disshapen…
Writhing in flame-tortured levers of iron…

Gnashing of steel serpents twisting and dying…
Screeching of steam-glutted cauldrons rending…
Shock of leviathans prone on each other…
Scaled flanks touching, ore entering ore…
Steel haunches closing and grappling and swaying
In the waltz of the mating locked mammoths of iron,
Tasting the turbulent fury of living,
Mad with a moment's exuberant living!
Crash of devastating hammers despoiling..
Hands inexorable, marring
What hands had so cunningly moulded…

Structures of steel welded, subtily tempered,
Marvelous wrought of the wizards of ore,
Torn into octaves discordantly clashing,
Chords never final but onward progressing
In monstrous fusion of sound ever smiting on sound
in mad vortices whirling…

Till the ear, tortured, shrieks for cessation
Of the raving inharmonies hatefully mingling…
The fierce obligato the steel pipes are screaming…
The blare of the rude molten music of Iron…

Submitted: Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Edited: Wednesday, February 08, 2012

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