Lord, Thou hast made this world below the shadow of a dream,
An’, taught by time, I tak’ it so – exceptin’ always Steam.
From coupler-flange to spindle-guide I see Thy Hand, O God –
Predestination in the stride o’ yon connectin’-rod.
John Calvin might ha’ forged the same – enorrmous, certain, slow –
Ay, wrought it in the furnace-flame – my “Institutio.”
I cannot get my sleep to-night; old bones are hard to please;
I’ll stand the middle watch up here – alone wi’ God an’ these
My engines, after ninety days o’ race an’ rack an’ strain
Through all the seas of all Thy world, slam-bangin’ home again.
Slam-bang too much – they knock a wee – the crosshead-gibs are loose;
But thirty thousand mile o’ sea has gied them fair excuse….
Fine, clear an’ dark – a full-draught breeze, wi’ Ushant out o’ sight,
An’ Ferguson relievin’ Hay. Old girl, ye’ll walk to-night!
His wife’s at Plymouth…. Seventy-One-Two-Three since he began –
Three turns for Mistress Ferguson…. an’ who’s to blame the man?
There’s none at any port for me, by drivin’ fast or slow,
Since Elsie Campbell went to Thee, Lord, thirty years ago.
(The year the ‘Sarah Sands’ was burned. Oh roads we used to tread,
Fra’ Maryhill to Pollokshaws – fra’ Govan to Parkhead!)
Not but they’re ceevil on the Board. Ye’ll hear Sir Kenneth say:
“Good morrn, McAndrew! Back again? An’ how’s your bilge to-day?”
Miscallin’ technicalities but handin’ me my chair
To drink Madeira wi’ three Earls – the auld Fleet Engineer,
That started as a boiler-whelp – when steam and he were low.
I mind the time we used to serve a broken pipe wi’ tow.
The whole poem is here.