Who shall tell what did befall, Far away in time, when once, Over the lifeless ball, Hung idle stars and suns? What god the element obeyed? Wings of what wind the lichen bore, Wafting the puny seeds of power, Which, lodged in rock, the rock abrade? And well the primal pioneer Knew the strong task to it assigned, Patient through Heaven's enormous year To build in matter home for mind. From air the creeping centuries drew The matted thicket low and wide, This must the leaves of ages strew The granite slab to clothe and hide, Ere wheat can wave its golden pride. What smiths, and in what furnace, rolled (In dizzy aeons dim and mute The reeling brain can ill compute) Copper and iron, lead and gold? What oldest star the fame can save Of races perishing to pave The planet with a floor of lime? Dust is their pyramid and mole: Who saw what ferns and palms were pressed Under the tumbling mountain's breast, In the safe herbal of the coal? But when the quarried means were piled, All is waste and worthless, till Arrives the wise selecting will, And, out of slime and chaos, Wit Draws the threads of fair and fit. Then temples rose, and towns, and marts, The shop of toil, the hall of arts; Then flew the sail across the seas To feed the North from tropic trees; The storm-wind wove, the torrent span, Where they were bid, the rivers ran; New slaves fulfilled the poet's dream, Galvanic wire, strong-shouldered steam. Then docks were built, and crops were stored, And ingots added to the hoard. But though light-headed man forget, Remembering Matter pays her debt: Still, through her motes and masses, draw Electric thrills and ties of law, Which bind the strengths of Nature wild To the conscience of a child.