'What can the matter be with the thermometer?
Is it the sun or the moon or the comet, or
Something broke loose in the old earth's pedometer?'
Thus in his study a weather philosopher
Mused — every minute more puzzled and cross over.
Wind-charts and notes he proceeded to toss over.
'Up in this tower, this breezy and barren height,
One should be cool as an elderly Sharonite.
Something is wrong with the scales of my Fahrenheit.
'T was but this morning the wind blowing northerly
Roughened the tops of the ocean waves frothily;
Now it has shifted, and seems to be southerly' —
(These are not rhymes — I am fully aware of it.
But the hot weather — for he had the care of it —
Fully excused him, and I have no share of it.)
Time to this sage was so precious that never he
Ate at regular hour; forever he
Seemed to be lost in a weather-wise reverie.
So a small kitchen the town-folks did make for him
Right underneath, where a servant could bake for him,
Boil for him, cook up a chop or a steak for him,
So that he need n't be starving while measuring
Rain-storms and calms that the heavens were treasuring.
'T was a bright thought which they took a great pleasure in;
For 't was the weather that made the great theme for them.
This was their day-talk and this their night's dream for them.
Here was the man who could skim the sky's cream for them;
Thousands of miles away see a cloud-macula —
Tell what was coming in language oracular —
Translate his science in common vernacular.
Quite independent of housekeeping syndicates
He could pronounce what the weather-glass indicates
Long ere old Boreas had opened his windy gates.
Knew all the signs from the Crab to Aquarius,
Shifting or permanent — single or various;
Bright signs that gladden us, dark signs that weary us,
Versed in the trade-winds and currents could spy a way
How a storm-centre in Texas or Iowa
Might prove a cyclone or peaceably die away.
Skilled in all secrets of meteorology,
Clear in his mind as that H I should follow G.
If he made blunders he made no apology.
He was the boldest of Old Probabilities;
Scorned all assistance and short-hand facilities.
Ah, what a thing to have genius and skill it is!
Pity if he should be forced to take off his eye;
Leave for a dinner his notes to a novice eye!
Food was a trifle for one who could prophesy.
So like the prophet of old when tile city he
Left for the woods, and the ravens had pity, he
Found himself served by a black-coat committee.
Now while engrossed in his figures, not dreaming it,
Bridget below in the kitchen was steaming it;
Making the building so hot that ice-cream in it
Melted like butter. Her stove and the range in it
Cooking his dinner — though this may seem strange in it —
Was the sole reason the air had a change in it.
Over his figures his brow getting rigid, he
Kept at his task, never thinking of Bridgety —
Growing each minute more fussy and fidgety.
Up through the speaking-tube rushed the hot air on him,
Bringing the steam of the boiler to bear on him.
So with a mystified sort of despair on him
Soon he proceeded to write and to scratch away,
And by his telegraph sent a despatch away —
(Never before was Old Prob so infatué)
Saying — 'It seems by my Aëroscopical
Great heats with thunder will soon be the topic all —
Weather, in short, most decidedly tropical.
Can it be sun-spots? Volcanic impurities
Caused by a meteor bursting? I'm sure it is
Something abnormal — but very obscure it is!
Possibly something may ail my thermometer;
Possibly 't is the effect of the comet, or
Something broke loose in the old Earth's pedometer.'
Prophets are struck now and then with insanity.
Ever since Adam man's measureless vanity
Thinks his own mood is the mind of humanity.
This poem is in the public domain.