Ten Hours At The Forge - Poem by Taylor Graham
Elihu Burritt’s journal, June 19,1838
And then, by lantern light you read
'Sixty lines Hebrew, thirty pages French, '
its phrases springing from the page as fluently
as the river Seine you’ve yet to see;
'ten pages Cuvier’s Theory; eight lines
Syriac' – and who besides yourself
in this township, or the state, to understand?
'ten lines Danish, ten ditto Bohemian, '
one line less of Polish. That night
you memorize 'fifteen names of stars.'
So much to learn, when one is pupil
and master too! A poor man’s university,
where each hammer-stroke helps solve
a question you pose mathematically.
The bellows breathe in Latin and Greek.
The flames feed your own philosophy.
In time you’ll learn to read
fifty human languages and translate
each of them to “peace, ” the word
you’d write on every tongue.
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