Studies in Aluminum V

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 by social elites

in the cast iron nave of a Gothic whale’s gut.

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Studies in Aluminum II

This is the second poem in a series I’m working on. You can read the first one here. This one is about the relationship of Humphry Davy and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. The title is taken from one of Davy’s Bakerian Lectures. Thanks for reading, and feel free to comment.

 

On Some Chemical Agencies of Electricity

 

The poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge is come to London

to give some lectures on Shakespeare, of which one

concerning Hamlet, in two years’ time, will save the play

from the likes of Dr. Johnson and August Schlegel.

 

Tonight he calls upon an old friend from Bristol,

Humphry Davy, now a Fellow of the Royal Society

and regular celebrity of Albemarle Street,

yet he still resembles that rose-cheeked, dark-eyed youth

 

who used to pass the green bag of nitrous oxide

to Coleridge, pinching the mouth of the bag

between his fingers and trying not to laugh

at something that was funny only to himself.

Continue reading “Studies in Aluminum II”