Hymn of Breaking Strain

The careful text-books measure
  (Let all who build beware!) 
The load, the shock, the pressure
  Material can bear. 
So, when the buckled girder
  Lets down the grinding span, 
The blame of loss, or murder, 
  Is laid upon the man. 
    Not on the Stuff — the Man!

But in our daily dealing 
  With stone and steel, we find
The Gods have no such feeling
  Of justice toward mankind. 
To no set gauge they make us — 
  For no laid course prepare —
And presently o'ertake us
  With loads we cannot bear: 
    Too merciless to bear.  

The prudent text-books give it 
  In tables at the end -
The stress that shears a rivet 
  Or makes a tie-bar bend —
What traffic wrecks macadam —
  What concrete should endure —
But we, poor Sons of Adam
  Have no such literature,
    To warn us or make sure! 

We hold all Earth to plunder —
  All Time and Space as well —
Too wonder-stale to wonder
  At each new miracle;
Till, in the mid-illusion
  Of Godhead 'neath our hand,
Falls multiple confusion
  On all we did or planned —
     The mighty works we planned.
We only of Creation
  (Oh, luckier bridge and rail!) 
Abide the twin damnation —   
  To fail and know we fail.
Yet we - by which sure token
  We know we once were Gods —
Take shame in being broken
  However great the odds —
    The Burden or the Odds.

Oh, veiled and secret Power
  Whose paths we seek in vain,
Be with us in our hour
  Of overthrow and pain;
That we - by which sure token
  We know Thy ways are true —
In spite of being broken,
  Because of being broken,
    May rise and build anew,
    Stand up and build anew!

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