Furnace Wharf

BRISK as a plague of frogs, the pale-skinned lads,
Who have no pool, splash in the green canal,
Which summer sunset, and great forges, puffing
Under the water their long coils of steam,
Have warmed to the luxurious feel of spas.
Some dive, some dog it, and some brightly souse
The shrinking milksop while he gasps revenge,
And all intensely happy, unaware,
Blessedly so, of what abides their play —
The blind Machine more terrible of maw
Than any Oriental idol, Siva
Or Moloch, that wall take them, body and soul,
Even as it took their fathers, body and soul,
Then cast them from it with its mounds of slag.
Still let them play and dream. Seal in your heart
Your bitter mood; glide like a ghost, be gone;
Leave them at least illusions: the great coal-barges
Lining the wharf are to their kindled eyes
Lovelier than all Venetian gondolas.
This is their only river, yet more a marvel
Than fabulous Hydaspes, holy Ganges.
And those cloud-cupolas, fretted in sharp fire
On wizardries of smoke that branch like palms,
Are poised on spells which one bleak word would shatter,
Are their last joy before their daylight dims.