THE SPIRIT OF TRANSPORTATION
Roy George, 1922
Time, and the Wheel, and the Infinite Sphere,
What is the problem the gods have set?
How shall man master it, now and here?
Conquering Time and Space—and yet
Over his mind;
Riding the wind
On steel pinion
While keeping his eye fixed hard on the earth,
His by promise, and right, and birth?
FOR, RISE AS THEY MAY, AND, WHATEVER THE ODDS,
MEN ARE BUT MEN, AND THE GODS ARE THE GODS.
This is the problem: To lift,
By the gift
Of his vision,
His weight from the earth
In the face of divine derision;
And to fix, as with pinion and gears,
All he wrests from the gods through the years;
Building him up a machine,
Against infinite odds,
To annihilate Time, dwarf the Sphere,
Turn the Wheel of the gods,
And so steer
His own fortune. That's all the years mean.
What's it worth?
WELL, MAN STARTED BY HITCHING HIS DOG ON A TETHER;
NOW, HIS MOTOR SPINS BY AND THEY'RE SITTING TOGETHER.
Is that all?
That a man may whirl by
With his dog?
To the sun through the fog?
Or may cable inanities,
Under the seas,
Or by wire?
Or, yet higher and higher, may flash through the air
His poor empty laughter—sad lees of the wine
Of divine joy! O, boy of mine, box your radio set!
Hark, the bird's song that shames our endeavor Forever.
And yet .... hope that builds on despair ....
YOUR WELL-FED CITIZEN OF ANY COUNTRY TOWN
TURNS OFF HIS MAZDA WITH A BOASTFUL ZIP
AH! BUT SEE A LINCOLN FROWN
PONDERING GOD'S JUSTICE WITH A TALLOW DIP!
Speed is not all.
Before the nations fall,
High on some hill, against a quiet sky,
Top-point of all our human building,
The Arc of Truth will stand.
Then some last soul, swift upward fanned,
(To what celestial plane?)
Contemptuous, will knock the gilding
From our temple's gawdy fane.
Speed is not all.
Before the nations fall,
Far in some quiet land,
A race, not forging bonds to bind sad duty,
Quick will thrill,
Less at their monstrous engines hurtling by,
More in the simple love of simple Beauty.
Thus living, is to emulate the gods.
Yet, speed is Beauty—of a kind ;
The present rage
Is but the contribution of an age,
But gaining lap on lap while Chronos nods
SPEED IS NOT BEAUTY—NOT PER SE-—BUT MARK
THE GAIN ON TIME, BEFORE YOU CURSE THE MOTOR CYCLE'S SPARK.
And, O, the sweet fine beauty of the long-lined car!
The sweet soft glist'ning feline grace as she slips past!
Swift as a bird, brave as a ship! How far
She draws our wonder, and she comes—how fast!
The joy, the grace,
The wonder of the pace,
The thunder everyplace,
And the race of our nerves!
The trucks and the stages,
The wonder of the ages,
On the curves, in the square,
The tumult on the air, everywhere!
Then the strong pull—away! and the shifting gears,
The long pull up, up, up to the city's rim,
The dip, and the flight, as the swallows skim,
And the thoughts of home, and the sounds of night,
And the motor's purr in the evening light,
The swinging stars, and the scattering hills,
The urge of the engine's forty wills,
Brave for the burden of every load,
On to the end of the longest road;
Home ! We have conquered something here;
Or, away! The motor is off like a deer.
This is no toy, or thing of chance;
This is a stage in the big advance.
MARK THE STEADY POWER AS THEY SCALE THE FALLS,
A LIN OF TRUCKS ALONG THE CAÑON WALLS!
Foot of the elephant, the camel's hide,
The horse's heart, the burro's nerves:
The ancient pack train, vastly glorified,
Served in one truck, that every purpose serves.
Sweep all the rest away
As but tokens of glory;
Pack the needs of today
On the truck and the lorry.
You question? We stand to take issue at last:
We will move to the future with this from the past.
Who then hath drawn him from the sea?
Or who hath tamed him, if not we?
His fearful neezings have been drawn like fangs,
His trail of fire, and his nostril's smoke.
On the iron rail, at his highest speed,
The will of man he has learned to heed;
And now the monster climbs and hangs
On the edge of a cliff, or plunges
With a few good-natured grunts and lunges
Into a sandwash and out again,
Over the roads to the haunts of men;
Lumbering by, like a clumsy colt,
Strong, and willing, and thoroly broke,
Swift to serve, and slow to bolt.
THIS IS THE CONQUEROR OF TIME, THIS FORCE,
THIS FINE BIG FRIENDLY HONEST HORSE.
The ancients built the pyramids,
And did they master Time?
There is a proud, sublime defiance in their pile;
The Sphinx with veiled lids
Scoffs at Time's endeavor, and, as if forever,
Scoffs; and wears a smile;
And has, from history's dawn.
Time moves, relentless, on!
Space, and Time, and the Steering Gears,
The Wheel of the gods' machine;
To grasp the Wheel and pass the Years,
And compass Space from this Vale of Tears—
That is the problem; and something yet
Here is the problem the gods have set—
To establish Justice on the earth,
To claim the right to Beauty, ours by birth.
How then can we go lumb'ring in a truck
Or, wheeling in a plane, not run amuck
Among the planets hoary?
The truck that carries the material food
Of all the world
Whirl'd in a day from land to land,
Has already spanned the hour
From past to future time, with an untold treasure,
And brought a dower
Thus Time is mastered, and no other way.
So, too, Space will be bridged by thought,
Flashed, it may be to Mars,
And relayed to the furthest stars:
Let it be a true thought, lived in our lives, well.
Otherwise, an Old Wives' Tale,
Of some ailment or some swelling
Would be as well worth telling.
Lo! the thing
That I sing
Is not this, seen across the Abyss;
Not the beast, nor the load, nor the spur, nor
But the House at the End of the Road.
Hold the thought,
That the Chief End of Man is not glory, but Justice;
God's Justice on earth will give birth to new visions of Beauty.
Of our day holds the well where our daughters will draw.
That's the law
Of the Spirit. We build the far dream,
And the thought may be snared by a faraway star :
But it must be dared here, where we are.
So the dream of the elephant rider was caught
And we've built his mirage
At the back of the lot.
WITH THE LITTLE GREY MOUSE TO CARRY HIS LOAD,
MAN SEEKS FOR THE HOUSE AT THE END OF THE ROAD.
See the pack
On the pachyderm's back:
Just a bale and a jar,
And you see what they are—
Not a carpet of magic,
Brief span of a life with its lesson;
Best learn it—
And the little rag rug of God's mercy,
Dare spurn it—
But dream, dream and build, till the plan of man's Justice
In the face of the gods
And the God of all gods
Laughs with joy that his plan is fulfilled.
NOT TIME NOR SPACE CONTAINS THE FINAL GOAL
BUT SOMETHING WRESTED FROM THE GODS TO FEED THE SOUL.
Remains the wheel. What is it? Where?
And worldly fortunes rise and fall,
The sea churns to foam,
And home the ship veers.
Some power moves our lodestar from its place,
Or swings the ship.
Some lever turns the nations.
Grasp that lever at a crisis,
And the magic power of Isis
Will create you sons, a legion,
Swarming out of every region,
Lifting hands both strong and clean
To learn to run the old machine.
Feel the thrill
As your will
Takes the wheel;
Whirl'd aimless, now turns from afar
Toward its destined star.
What new comfort is this,
What enrichment of life,
Just to know that the strife
Is not world against world,
Not one nation hurl'd 'gainst another,
Brother against brother,
But the world against Fate,
And a union of all the wide lands,
Soon or late,
With the Wheel in our hands!
Is the Wheel a mechanical thing?
A bolt, a pin, a ring,
A work of gears and pinions?
The world's dominions
Are material things. Who sings
The promise is that man shall have the earth.
Aha! There is another Man. Never fear it.
To grasp the Wheel is but to share
A new birth,
And dare to realize there is a food
For babes who first begin to seek their highest spirit's good.
The thrill again!
Grasp the Great Wheel, men,
All must steer, though the ship veer
Perilously near to the rocks;
Though the stars fall,
All must sight
The lodestar through the night,
And stand the ship's shocks.
WORDS, WORDS! BECAUSE THE SOUL IS SICK;
BECAUSE THERE IS NO SOUL, WORDS! WORDS MORE THICK.
Throw the stick over!
Leap to the air.
In that first moment, leaving earth behind,
More than in the babel of a thousand poets,
Or ten thousand wise men's fare,
Is the soul fed. Something intangible,
Drawn from the ether, starts the soul breathing.
Be not content to stand and contemplate the plane's wide soaring;
Pile in, and take the heights, and learn to love the engine's roaring.
Here, now, at last !
The first blast of the air in your face
If you fall
Through some flaw in the rods,
Call! The gods
Will not hear in their grace nor be moved by your fear.
You must steer, and control the thing, body and soul.
Is as simple as Justice—and stern:
We most learn to command.
Where yon will on the earth,
Of a life there is measured by flights to the heights,
By the conquest of fear, by the boldness and vision
That flee at the gods' derision,
To the very fount of life,
Fighting for breath
To jeer at Death;
To return to the earth,
To the beauty of life, and its mirth,
Or to sink to the grave.
Sing, then, with the stars,
As you fly your planes higher. Leap from the ground,
Leave the church for the steeple;
Make a joyous sound; let it swell to the bars
Of high heaven;
Your spiritual mirth with the smells of the earth;
Inhale the mad mood of a conquering people.
Take joy in the dust of our race against Time,
In the smells of the oils, and the rubber, and brakebands;
Demand that Life give you your portion of joy!
See the gleams
Of our lodestar. At last,
From the past we are shaking our shackles and taking
The Wheel in our hands.
FOR WE KNOW THAT THE POWER IS BUT THE DESIRE:
THE WINGS ARE WITHIN US ON WHICH WE MOUNT HIGHER.
Sing the lands of our dreams. Make them real.
We can feel this strong passion for life
And not lose in the strife
All we live for and strive for.
The goal, sing!
And harp not of rest,
Nor the breath from the isles of the blest
And the haunts of the soul,
And of Death.
If out across Numidia I could make my way
By camel caravan to some cool spring, by night
Beneath the stars, I think I might find voice
"Thank all the stars that sing and fight
That I have had my choice,
When I can give
All that I love of Justice,
All that I sense of Beauty,
To an age that prates not Duty,
But in the gear
Of an engineer
Drives where the dust is
And swallows the grime
In the race against Time."
Our life is not this fretful hour alone;
Wild, harried days without tranquility;
Cranking gas engines, fighting with the phone,
And marveling at the strange perversity
Of things inanimate. Somewhere,
Not one, but all,
Will rise to see the emptiness of life like this,
And, yet, to call,
Thrice blessed this high-tension air
In which, as in a bell-jar, we are caged;
And not because the laboratory test
Has any merit;
Then were our natures void, outraged,
Life a jest,
And we sad fools to bear it.
The world, till, hurl'd to eternity,
We'll see more clear, that every atom of the universe
Has some self-power, some will;
Call it inertia, or dynamic force,
Or call it stubbornness, or high intent,
Sweat to circumvent it, curse, or fight until
As a matter of course, seen near,
It resolves itself into something clear,
A spiritual problem, something new,
And I, and you
Lay hold again, with the sense to know
We can work the problem and live as we go.
But, if the spirit could take hold anew,
If I and you
Could, by some magic of our common sense
Bring all to bear on life !
Work the old engine with some super-power!
Well, these are strange days:
With a zest we dissipate in strife.
Is there one living at this hour
Has not felt thrill his inner man,
When, in control of some machine,
His mind hard working on some darling plan,
Upon the gradient of a stubborn hill
He put his foot upon the feed
And felt the world fall servient to his will?
Leapt to the summit, gazed upon the scene
Before, below him, filling some dim need?
That is the Spirit's stirring to new birth.
Is trembling in expectancy. Old laws
Are solving and dissolving. Something new
Is seeking utterance. If the cause
Must have results, results must have reactions.
Grip your mind. Accept the token
Of your own experiences; with no word spoken,
Making of the old no old exactions,
Bring the new to view.