Harriet Monroe, the founder and longtime editor of Poetry journal, was the creator of a big physique of poems that captured the essence of city industrial modernity. Her 1914 e book, You and I ( Macmillan Company, New York), accommodates two poems about energy technology.

The first, “The Turbine,” is an engineer’s ode to his turbine. The second, “A Power-Plant,” references Edison’s Fisk Street energy plant in Chicago—the plant that housed GE’s first (5-MW) steam turbine generator unit. The 1903-opened plant was completely  closed in 2012. 


To W.S.M.

Look at her—there she sits upon her throne
As ladylike and quiet as a nun!
But in the event you cross her—whew! her thunderbolts
Will shake the earth ! She’s proud as any
The magnificence—is aware of her royal enterprise too,
To gentle the world, and does it night time by night time
When her homosexual lord, the solar, offers up his job.
I’m her slave; I wake and watch and run
From darkish until daybreak beside her. All the whereas
She hums there softly, purring with delight
Because males carry the riches of the earth
To feed her hungry fires. I do her will
And dare not disobey, for her proper hand
Is energy, her left is terror, and her anger
Is havoc. Look—if I however lay a wire
Across the terminals of yonder change
She’ll burst her windings, rip her casings off,
And shriek until envious Hell shoots up its flames,
Shattering her very throne. And all her folks,
The laboring, trampling, dreaming crowds out
Fools and the sensible who look to her for gentle —
Will stroll in darkness by way of the liquid night time,

Sometimes I’m wondering why she stoops
To be my pal—oh sure, who talks to me
And sings away my loneliness; my pal,
Though I’m trivial and he or she chic.
Hard-hearted?—No, tender and pitiful,
As all the nice are. Every conceited grief
She comforts quietly, and all my joys
Dance to her measures by way of the tolerant
night time.
She talks to me, tells me her troubles too,
Just as I inform her mine. Perhaps she feels
An ache deep down—that agonizing stab
Of grit grating her bearings; then her voice
Changes its tune, it wails and calls to me
To soothe her anguish, and I run, her slave,
Probe like a surgeon and relieve the ache.

We have our jokes too, little mockeries
That nobody else in all of the swarming world
Would see the purpose of. She will chuckle at me
To present her energy: perhaps her carbon packings
Leak steam, and I run madly backwards and forwards
To hold the infernal fiends from breaking
Suddenly she is going to throttle them herself
And chuckle softly, far above me there,
At my alarms.

But there are moments—hush!—
When my flip comes; her slave may be her
Conquering her he serves. For she’s a lady,
Gets bored there on her throne, uninterested in her-
Tingles with energy that turns to wantonness.
Suddenly one thing’s flawed—she laughs at me.
Bedevils the frail wires with some mad caress
That thrills blind area, calls down ten thousand
To destroy her pomp and set her spirit free.
Then with this puny hand, swift as her risk,
Must I beat again the chaos, maintain in leash
Destructive furies, rescue her—even her—
From the fierce rashness of her truant temper.
And make me lord of far and close to a second,
Startling the thriller. Last night time I did it—
Alone right here with my hand upon her coronary heart
I confronted the mounting fiends and whipped them
And by no means a wink from the lengthy file of lamps
Betrayed her to the world.

So there she sits.
Mounted on all of the ages, on the peak
Of time. The first man dreamed of sunshine, and
The sodden ignorance away, and cursed
The darkness; younger primeval races dragged
Foundation stones, and piled into the void
Rage and need; the Greek mounted and sang
Promethean songs and lit a sign hearth;
The Roman bent his iron will to forge
Deep furnaces; gradual epochs riveted
With hope the key chambers: until ultimately
We, you and I, this residing age of ours,
A brand new-winged Mercury, out…

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