The Threshing Machine
No “fan is in his hand” for these
Young villagers beneath the trees,
   Watching the wheels. But I recall
   The rhythm of rods that rise and fall,
Purging the harvest, over-seas.
No fan, no flail, no threshing-floor!
And all their symbols evermore
   Forgone in England now—the sign,
   The visible pledge, the threat divine,
The chaff dispersed, the wheat in store.
The unbreathing engine marks no tune,
Steady at sunrise, steady at noon,
   Inhuman, perfect, saving time,
   And saving measure, and saving rhyme—
And did our Ruskin speak too soon?
“No noble strength on earth” he sees
“Save Hercules’ arm”; his grave decrees
   Curse wheel and steam. As the wheels ran
   I saw the other strength of man,
I knew the brain of Hercules.

Webpage © 2001 ELC
Lane Core Jr. (
Created April 14, 2001; not revised.