Poetry by Jeff Green


Mechanical History 101

by cricketjeff on April 25, 2009.  © Jeff Green, All rights reserved

I’ve got a little tale to tell, of how men came to dream,
Of massive engines, ships and cars, the best propelled by steam.
So settle down and listen up, you may take notes my friend –
Remember all the foremost facts, I’ll test you at the end.

The cannonballs on English ships were all the self same size,
Which gave Armada galleons a rather harsh surprise.
They’d learnt a way to mass produce a hoard of cast iron guns,
Which meant they’d have the edge in wars ‘gainst Spanish, French, or Huns.

The skills that let them cast this way was used by Newcomen,
So when a tin mine flooded deep he’d pump it dry again.
He built a massive engine that would pull down on a beam,
By cooling down a cylinder that he’d first filled with steam.

James Watt was next, improved the breed and patented the same;
In ways that stopped all progress and was dreadful for the game.
Trevithick knew a better way and when the patents fell
He drove an engine twenty miles, folks said it came from Hell.

George Stephenson, a mining man. was mightily impressed
And built a load of railways that outperformed the rest.
Robert his son was smarter still, “The Rocket” lead the way –
To making railways the force that we still use today.

Dan Gooch and Stroudley followed on and engines grew and grew
The railways employed all arts that anybody knew.
Until some Germans came along and thought to build the car
The locomotive engineer was like a movie star.

Two brothers played at Kittyhawk and built a basic plane
Which was the first thing made by man to overtake a train.
Then Two World Wars would force the pace of engineering change
Producing vehicles anyone would have to class  as strange.

The RAF had found a man, Frank Whittle was the bloke,
Who dreamed of planes without a prop, that seemed a dreadful joke.
But pretty soon the skies would fill with jets that flew at speed
And let us travel round the world without the slightest need.

Wernher von Braun, from Germany, would lead a Nazi race
To send the weapons made for war across the edge of space.
Then he’d nip to the USA and keep up with his quest
Though early on the Russians were embarrassingly best.

The Sputnik flashed around the World, Gagarin did so too
So rocketry was all the rage and moonshots came on cue.
Now satellites bounce TV shows and phone calls all day long
With Internet and home PCs technology is strong.

This history is just old hat and no-one says they care
That everything we thought we knew is just so much hot air.
The bicycle was once the rage and few folk needed more
But soon we’ll want a hover pack to nip of to the store.

Now everyone who’s anyone must own a car or two
And change it for another one when it’s still almost new.
But if the truth were being told, when grown up schoolboys dream
They’re sitting high inside the cab in charge of lots of steam!

Author notes

I got most of your 4 pointers in I think

Astronomy/Space Exploration/Aviation
Trains/Rail Travel