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Machine Limitations

From The Birmingham Age Herald, November 22, 1913. By Judd Mortimer Lewis.

I’d love to sit by this machine
    And slowly touch the yielding keys,
Till the whole world should see the sheen
    Of rocky river through the trees;
See the slate cliffs I used to know
    And see the spider-webby span
Of the bridge I knew long ago
    Away back where my life began.

I’d love to take the world with me
    Across my white typewriter keys,
Until the whole wide world should see
    The things I see, feel the same breeze
Upon its cheek; should go and wade
    With me across the shallow ford,
And climb the cliff’s face unafraid,
    And drink with me from the old gourd.

The keys are unresponsive things!
    They never quite interpret right
The song that’s in one heart and sings
    Its throbbing notes out to the night;
The song of youth and gladsome days
    The song of blossomed slopes and bees
The song of sumach bordered ways
    And forest glades and shady trees.

They never can quite make the world
    See the rare color in the air—
As if the sunset banners furled
    Had lost their sweetest color there;
A color red as sweetheart lips!
    A color holding all the gold
Of truant locks; pink as the tips
    Of little fingers known of old.

Let my stiff fingers stray across
    The ivory faces as they may,
I cannot make the branches toss,
    I cannot make the roses sway
The way I’d like the world to see,
    The way I’d like the world to know,
Or the whole world would sing with me
    Sweet love songs of the long ago.

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