Okay. Now along the way to happenin' upon that (Part One, somewhere above, or maybe even below, who knows,just yet), a couple of other tidbits. I figured that a field tech (a new term to me, forgive me) could be any representative of an organization, any kind of organization, who was sent out, or abroad, to anyplace in the country or world to fix people's problems for the organization, when I came across "McAndrew's Hymn," another Kipling poem, dated 1893. McAndrew is a Scots chief engineer aboard a steamship after a lifetime's service below-decks around the world. It's way too many pages for me to keyboard in the whole thing, and in Scot's dialect to boot, which I may try to straighten out for clarity, this being StatNisland and all, da home a' Da King's Engilish. I'm aiming at a few high points illustrating the experience and attitudes of what amounts to a field tech, and so will skip around. Source is "A Choice of Kipling's Verse," edited by T.S. Eliot, Faber and Faber, 1941, 1963, London & Boston; also can be found in other standard Kipling collections. If I insert a bracketed explanation it's because I had to pause to think about it, which interrupts the flow of the reading, so I've inserted my best interpretation in the interest of increasing that flow, so sue me.]
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--
...I'll stand the middle watch up here--alone with God and 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 cross-head gibs are loose,
But thirty thousand miles o' sea, has gied them fair excuse.
...Not but they're civil on the Board. Y'll hear Sir Kenneth say:
"Good morrn, McAndrew. Back again? An' how's your bilge today?"
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!
Ten pound was all the pressure then--Eh! Eh!--a man would drive;
An' here, our workin' gauges give one-hundred sixty-five!
We're creepin' on wi' each new rig--less weight and larger power,
There'll be the loco-boiler next an' thirty miles an hour!
Thirty and more. What I ha' seen since ocean-steam began
Leaves me na doot (no doubt) for the machine: but what about the man?
The man that counts, with all his runs, one million mile o' sea,
Four times the span from earth to moon. . . . How far O Lord, from Thee
That wast beside him night and day? Ye mind my first typhoon?
It scoughed the skipper on his way to jock [drink, I believe] wi' the saloon,
Three feet [of water] were on the stoke hold floor--just slappin' to and fro--
An' cast me on a furnace-door. I have the marks to show.
Marks! I ha' marks o' more than burns--deep in my soul and black,
An' times like this, when things go smooth, my wickedness comes back.
The sins o' four an' forty years, all up an' down the seas,
Clack an' repeat, like valves half-fed. . . . Forgi[v]e us our trespasses!
...Years when I raked the Ports wi' pride to fill my cup o' wrong--
Judge not, O Lord, my steps aside at Gay Street in Hong Kong!
Blot out the wastrel hours of mine in sin when I abode,--
Jane Harrigan's an' Number Nine, The Reddick an' Grant Road!
An waur [worse] than all--my crownin' sin--rank blasphemy an' wild
I was not four and twenty then--Ye wadna judge a child?
I'd seen the tropics first that run--new fruit, new smells, new air--
How could I tell, blind-fou [full] wi' sun, the De[v]il was lurkin' there?
By day like playhouse-scenes the shore slid past our sleepy eyes;
By night those soft lasceevious stars leered from those velvet skies,
In port (we used no cargo-steam) I'd daunder [I'd wander?] down the streets--
An ijjit [idiot] grinnin' in a dream--for shells an' parrakeets,
An' walkin' sticks o' carved bamboo an' blowfish stuffed and dried--
Fillin' my bunk wi' rubbishry the Chief put overside...
[After describing a difficult passage with many passengers above who don't realize what he's been through, McAndrew continues]:
Then, at last, we'll get to port an' hoist their baggage clear--
The passengers wi' gloves an' canes--an' this is what I'll hear:
‘Well, thank ye for a pleasant voyage. The tender's comin' now.'
While I go testin' follower-bolts an' watch the skipper bow.
They've words for every one but me--shake hands wi' half the crew,
Except the dour Scots engineer, the man they never knew.
An' yet I like the work for all we've dam' few pickin's here--
No pension, an' the most we'll earn is four hundred pounds a year...
Below there! Oiler! What's your work? Y'find it runnin' hard?
Y'needn't swill the cup wi' oil--this isn't the Cunard!
Y'thought? Y'are not paid to think. Go sweat that off again.
Tsk! tsk! It's difficult to swear nor take Thy Name in vain!
...That [re]minds me of our Vicount loon [?] --Sir Kenneth's kin-- the chap
Wi' Russia leather tennis-shoes an' spar-decked yachtin'-cap,
I showed him round last week, o'er all, --an at the last says he:
‘Mister McAndrew, don't you think steam spoils romance at sea?'
Damned idiot! I'd been down that morn to see what ailed the throws,
Manholin', on my back--the cranks three inches off my nose.
Romance! Those first-class passengers they like it very well
Printed an' bound in little books; but why don't poets tell?
I'm sick of all their quirks and turns--the loves an' doves they dream--
Lord, send a man like Robbie Burns to sing the Song o' Steam!
To match with Scotia's [Scotland's] noblest speech, you orchestra sublime
Whaurto [whereto?]--uplifted like the Just--the tailrods mark the time.
The crank-throws give the double-bass, the feed-pump sobs an' heaves,
An' now the main eccentrics start their quarrel on the sheaves:
Her time, her own appointed time, the rocking link-head bides,
Till --hear that note?--the rod's return whings glimmerin' through the guides.
There all awa'! True beat, full power, the clangin' chorus goes
Clear to the tunnel where they sit, my purrin' dynamoes.
Interdependence absolute, foreseen, ordained, decreed,
To work, Ye'll note, at any tilt an' every rate o' speed.
Fra' skylight -lift to furnace-bars, backed, bolted, braced an' stayed,
An' singin' like the Mornin' Stars for joy that they are made;
While, out o' touch o' vanity, the sweatin' thrust-block says:
"Not unto us the praise, or man--not unto us the praise!"
Now all together hear them lift their lesson--theirs an' mine:
‘Law, Orrder, Duty an' Restraint, Obedience, Discipline!"
Mill, forge, an' try-pit taught them that when roarin' they arose
An' whiles I [sometimes I] wonder if a soul was gied [given to] them wi' the blows.
Oh for a man to weld it then, in one trip-hammer strain,
Till even first-class passengers could tell the meanin' plain!
But no one cares except mysel' that serve an' understand,
My seven-thousand horsepower here. Eh, Lord! They're grand, they're grand!
[After continuing his reverie with God, McAndrew, below, hears the "Stand-by" bell, indicating the pilot's flare has been seen; they're approaching port and the watch is set, and in italics, it appears that he imagines the tightwad Sir Kenneth speaking once again, saying]:
Morrn! Ferguson, Man, have ye ever thought
What your good lady [i.e. your ship] costs in coal? . . . I'll burn ‘em [her] down to port. [i.e. for the insurance proceeds, is my guess]
Well, I thought you old-salt types and other products of the Port of StatNisland, it's shipyards and factories, it's shop classes and basement workshops, parks and pools and piers, would get a kick out of Rudyard Kipling, a misfit out of India with a gift for language; a true, albeit honorary, Islander, from the North Shore, of course. (Just kidding, he can be from the Sout' Shore, as well, after we get him washed up,)
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