THE SECRET OF THE MACHINES*
The poem deals with the problem of modern technology and
automation. In the beginning the reader gets informed about how machines are
produced and what kind of treatment they need. Afterwards the machines explain
how they can serve humanity. The poem ends with the statement that machines,
although capable of great deeds, are still nothing more than creations of the
We were taken from the ore-bed and the mine,
We were melted in the furnace and the pit
We were cast and wrought and hammered to design,
We were cut and filed and tooled and gauged to fit.
Some water, coal, and oil is all we ask,
And a thousandth of an inch to give us play:
And now, if you will set us to our task,
We will serve you four and twenty hours a day!
We can pull and haul and push and lift and drive,
We can print and plough and weave and heat and light,
We can run and race and swim and fly and dive,
We can see and hear and count and read and write!
But remember, please, the Law by which we live,
We are not built to comprehend a lie,
We can neither love nor pity nor forgive,
If you make a slip in handling us you die!
Though our smoke may hide the Heavens from your eyes,
It will vanish and the stars will shine again,
Because, for all our power and weight and size,
We are nothing more than children of your brain!
Rudyard Kipling was born on December 30, 1865, in Bombay, India. He was educated in England but returned to India in 1882. A
decade later, Kipling married Caroline Balestier and settled in Brattleboro,
Vermont, where he wrote The Jungle Book (1894), among a host of other works
that made him hugely successful. Kipling was the recipient of the 1907 Nobel
Prize in Literature. He died in 1936.