Verse > Anthologies > William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. > Anthology of Magazine Verse for 1920
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William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. (1878–1962).  Anthology of Magazine Verse for 1920.  1920.
 
The Civil Engineers
 
Phœbe Hoffman
 
 
THEY stormed the forts of Nature,
And marched with blast and drill
On her bulwark cliffs and sapping swamps,—
Her strength against their skill.
 
Though her torrents twisted their bridges        5
Like the horns of a mountain ram
And burst like a hungry tiger
Through the buttressed walls of their dam;
 
They threw out new spans like spiders,
And copied the beaver’s art,        10
And broke the desert’s slumber
With bloom in its rainless heart.
 
They tunneled her snowy shoulders,
Or wriggled up like a snake,
And laced her with iron girders        15
Like a martyr lashed to a stake.
 
And clove her spine-like ridges
From isthmus shore to shore,
And plied their mighty dredges
As she let the landslides pour,        20
 
She was harsh as a fickle mistress,
And stern as an angered god,
Then soft as the lap of a mother,
As they conquered her great untrod.
 
From the circles around the Arctics        25
To Cancer and Capricorn,
From the yellow streams of China
To the base of the Matterhorn;
 
They have vanquished their untamed Mother;
Though she thunders volcanic guns,        30
They force her to do their bidding,
Like masterful rebel sons.

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