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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

First Line: How often at night I have stood on the hill
Last Line: "old jupiter's horses are coming to drink."
Subject(s): Animals; Horses; Locomotives; San Francisco Earthquake & Fire (1906)

How often at night I have stood on the hill
While the valley below was sleeping and still,
When, with rumble and roar and a flame on the sky,
The lightning express went thundering by.

With its rhythmical gallop, and click of the steel,
It snorted its challenge as if it could feel,
And I said, as my fancy took wings at the sight,
"Old Jupiter's horses are racing to-night."

But he slackens his pace and is pausing to drink
Like the dragon himself at the Stygian brink—
See him balking and backing and going again,
A stallion of steel too noble for men.

Striking fire with his hoof, and with fire in his eye,
Like a meteor trailing his train in the sky,
With a demon's endurance, with splendor and speed,
He must be a deity's charger indeed.

One century's fruitage! How narrow the span
Since spoke into being by magical man
These monsters have followed the mystical rail!
No "Lamp of Aladdin" can equal the tale!

Compelled by the spirit possessing the age,
They chafed in New England like bears in a cage,
And, breaking their tethers, exulting and free,
And leaping the Father of Waters in glee,

They charged o'er the deserts with reckless career,
Leaving panther and bison afar in the rear,
They plunged through Sierra's perpetual snow
And reached the proud city now smoldering low.

Then northward and southward, and thither and back,
Went they, rearing and tearing and crossing their track,
Now swerving and curving the yawning abyss—
Did e'er a Mazeppa ride charger like this?

With a fury imprisoned, with wings of the wind,
With torrent and tempest unheeded behind,
Undaunted by darkness or heat of the day,
Was ever Bucephalus royal as they?

Then where are the kings of the turf or "the trot"
With honors like Stephenson, Evans, and Watt?
Let us burnish their names and emblazon them bright
While Jupiter's horses are charging to-night!

Now their number is legion. With passionate mirth
Hear them racing and chasing all over the earth!
In hamlet and city they're crowding the street,
All in from the race course, and panting with heat.

And here where the Umpqua caresses the sea,
I am dreaming to-night how soon it will be
When the snort of the engine shall rouse me to think
"Old Jupiter's horses are coming to drink."

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