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January 4th, 2011

gfish: (Default)
Tuesday, January 4th, 2011 11:44 am
I'm reading a great history of the vertical water wheel, which was justly recommended to me by the millwright I met when visiting the George Washington grist mill last spring. Early on it references a charming little poem from Antipater of Thessalonica, written not long after (as far as we can tell, not many people bothered writing about technology back then) water wheels were first harnessed:
Hold back your hand from the mill, you grinding girls; even if the cockcrow heralds the dawn, sleep on. For Demeter has imposed the labours of your hands on the nymphs, who leaping down upon the topmost part of the wheel, rotate its axle; with encircling cogs, it turns the hollow weight of the Nisyrian millstones. If we learn to feast toil-free on the fruits of the earth, we taste again the golden age.

It doesn't have quite the grandeur of A Descriptive Poem, Addressed to Two Ladies, at their Return from Viewing the Mines, near Whitehaven, but I still love it.