Back of the beating hammer
By which the steel is wrought,
Back of the workshop’s clamor
The seeker may find the Thought,
The Thought that is ever master
Of iron and steam and steel,
That rises above disaster
And tramples it under heel!
The drudge may fret and tinker
Or labor with dusty blows,
But back of him stands the Thinker,
The clear-eyed man who Knows;
For into each plow or sabre,
Each piece and part and whole,
Must go the Brains of Labor,
Which gives the work a soul!
Back of the motors humming,
Back of the belts that sing,
Back of the hammers drumming,
Back of the cranes that swing,
There is the eye which scans them
Watching through stress and strain,
There is the Mind which plans them–
Back of the brawn, the Brain!
Might of the roaring boiler,
Force of the engine’s thrust,
Strength of the sweating toiler,
Greatly in these we trust.
But back of them stands the Schemer,
The Thinker who drives things through;
Back of the Job the Dreamer
Who’s making the dream come true!
From Songs of the Workaday World, published by the George H. Doran Company, New York, 1915.
Songs of the Workaday World is available for viewing and downloading (as a pdf) at the Internet Archive; the collection of poems was made available by the University of Michigan, by the University of California, and also by the University of California Libraries. Songs is also available via Google Books. The Berton Braley Cyber Museum has a copy of “The Thinker” that you can read online.