I cannot love the Brothers Wright,
Marconi wins my mixed devotion.
Had no one yet discovered flight
Or set the air waves in commotion,
Life would, I think, have been as well. 5
That also goes for A. G. Bell.
What I’m really thankful for, when I’m cleaning up after lunch,
Is the invention of waxed paper.
That Edison improved my lot,
I sometimes doubt; nor care a jitney 10
Whether the kettle steamed, or Watt,
Or if the gin invented Whitney.
Butter the world, I often feel,
Had nobody contrived the wheel.
On the other hand, I’m awfully indebted 15
To whoever it was dreamed up the elastic band.
Yes, Pausing grateful, now and then,
upon my prim, domestic courses,
I offer praise to lesser men—
Fultons unsung, anonymous Morses— 20
Whose deft and innocent devices
Pleasure my house with sweets and spices.
I give you, for instance, the fellow
Who first had the idea for Scotch Tape.
I hail the man who thought of soap, 25
The chap responsible for zippers,
Sun lotion, the stamped envelope,
And screens, and wading pools for nippers,
Venetian blinds of various classes,
and bobby pins and tinted glasses. 30
DeForest never thought up anything
So useful as a bobby pin.
Those baubles are the ones that keep
Their places, and beget no trouble,
Incite no battles, stab no sleep, 35
Reduce no villages to rubble,
Being primarily designed
By men of unambitious mind.
You remember how Orville Wright said his flying machine
Was going to outlaw war? 40
Let them on Archimedes dote
Who like to hear the planet rattling
I cannot cast a hearty vote
For Galileo or for Gatling,
Preferring, of the Freaks of science, 45
The pygmies rather than the giants—
(And from experience being wary of
Greek geniuses bearing gifts)—
Deciding, on reflection calm,
mankind is better of with trifles: 50
With Band-Aid rather than the bomb,
With safety match than safety rifles.
Let the earth fall or the earth spin!
A brave new world might well begin
With no invention 55
Worth the mention
Save paper towels and aspirin.
Remind me to call the repairman
About my big, new, automatically defrosting
refrigerator with the built-in electric eye.