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The river shimmers dully in this summer's August glare,
Not even a breath of breeze--- one hears the insects blare.
Then, from down-river comes a most distinctive sound,
It's the panting of a steamboat that has yet, a bend to round.
A string of mundane barges, emerges into sight--
And then the shoving tow-boat whistles out--to signal "right"--.
Its size expanding slowly as the tow moves up the stream-
"Breathing" sounds now louder, as the valves exhaust their steam.
Trailing from the blunt bows are streaks of whitish foam,
That disturb the quiet waters-seek the shorelines for their home;
And now this apparition is fully into view,
Fills the volume of the river, and passes right on through.
The beauty and the power of this majestic "queen",
Is the way it flaunts its action-makes it easy to be seen.
The pistons drive the pitman's, and the pitmans turn the crank,
And the crank, it spins the paddle that is mounted on the flank.
Twin stacks spew out coal smoke, and the dome emits some steam,
And the whistle moans a greeting as she hastens up the stream.
The water that is rolling in the spinning paddles wake,
Leaves the river somewhat troubled by the waves these paddles make.
But these waves are like the steamboat--they will not tary long,
Soon become just ripples-once again the insect's song.
And I fear that all this beauty that I drank in with my eye,
Is passing more than riverbanks-- since time, for all must fly.
The age of steam is dying---diesel's coming with a rush,
Bigger rivers lying down-stream, already use its push.
Can't argue 'bout efficiency and much, much smaller crew;
Still, I hate to see the paddle overtaken by the screw.
For it seems there's something noble in watching steam at "play";
Like a mighty locomotive, (seen up-close) can make ones day.
How drab and dull the diesel, since its parts cannot be shown,
It dully does its daily work---and all romance has flown!