29 January 2013

Robert Frost, Electric Cars, and Poetry

Poet Robert Frost died 50 years ago today, and Poets & Writers magazine offered the challenge of writing a poem using Frost's "Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening" as a model.
Robert Frost

Frost was born in 1874, some time after Robert Anderson (a suspected relation to this author) invented a crude electric carriage in Scotland, and some 39 years after Thomas Davenport of Brandon, Vermont, built his own small-scale electric car. Davenport also invented the first American-built DC electric motor.

Robert Anderson's Electric Carriage, circa 1832

Perhaps because I was working on some electric vehicle materials in my day-job today, I couldn't resist penning this over lunch, with apologies to the poet:

"Stopping by the Roadside on a Snowing Evening"

Whose car this is I think I know;
No keys I need to make it go.
You may not hear me driving by
'Cause electric cars are soft as snow.

My finger on the button here
Will make the engine start and gear
And waken not the woods and lake
--the quietest engine of the year.

I give the foot-pedal a tiny tap
And feel the seat belt on my lap.
The only other sound's the hush
Of lofty wind and goosewing flap.

The road is lively, quick, and steep.
But I have batteries to keep,
And miles to drive before I sleep,
And miles to drive before I sleep.

Davenport's Electric Car, 1835