The Shipwright


    Down in the shipyard, day and night,
            The Galahads of the dock,
    Hard as the sinews of basin rock,
            Build an ocean cosmopolite.
 
    The rivets stab and the hammers bite
    Into the beams and plates of steel
    Of the Diesel heart and the belly keel.
 
                                  We,
The workers of the world strike catholic notes
On woods and irons, wring from brassy throats
                         Epics of industry.
 
                             Day and night
                        The diapason puts
              The bent-winged gulls to flight
  And shakes the harbor and quakes the ground
  And leaps at the suns like Prometheus bound.
 
  Our matrix shapes our citizen of the world
  To cross the churning mountains of the sea,
       Nor fashions a canoe to sail a lake
                        In cool felicity.
Melvin Tolson, "The Shipwright" from Harlem Gallery and Other Poems of Melvin B. Tolson (Charlottesville: The University Press of Virginia, 1999)
Source: "Harlem Gallery" and other Poems of Melvin B. Tolson (University Press of Virginia, 1999)
More Poems by Melvin B. Tolson