Happy New Year’s Eve!
This is part of a series I’m working on that looks at the history of aluminum, from its discovery as a metal to its mass production. The poems are connected loosely by their shared themes, but don’t have to be read in any order.
The “You” in this poem is Napoleon III (1808-73), a very interesting, tragic figure in history, who gave Henri Étienne Sainte-Claire Deville unlimited resources to experiment with aluminum manufacturing. Napoleon was hoping to get aluminum armor for his military, but it was not meant to be.
THE PRICE OF ALUMINUM
Silver from Clay
In 1855 a kilogram cost two thousand francs,
or the average household salary for that year,
or roughly twelve ingots arranged pyramidal
and garnering rude skepticism from social elites
in the cast iron nave of a Gothic whale’s gut.