Insouciance in Storm

Deep in an ore-boat's hold
Where great-bulked boilers loom
And yawning mouths of fire
Irradiate the gloom,

I saw half-naked men
Made thralls to flame and steam,
Whose bodies, dripping sweat,
Shone with an oily gleam.

There, all the sullen night,
While waves boomed overhead
And smote the lurching ship,
The ravenous fires they fed;

They did not think it brave:
They even dared to joke!
I saw them light their pipes
And puff calm rings of smoke!

I saw a Passer sprawl
Over his load of coal—
At which a Fireman laughed
Until it shook his soul:

All this in a hollow shell
Whose half-submerged form
On Lake Superior tossed
'Mid rushing hills of storm!
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