A SOUND came booming through the air—
‘What is that sound?’ quoth I.
My blue-eyed pet, with golden hair,
Made answer, presently,
‘Papa, you know it very well—
That sound—it was Saint Pancras Bell.’
‘My own Louise, put down that cat.
And come and stand by me;
I ’m sad to hear you talk like that.
Where’s your philosophy? That sound—attend to what I tell—
That was not Saint Pancras Bell.
‘ Sound is the name the sage selects
For the concluding term
Of a long series of effects.
Of which the blow’s the germ.
The following brief analysis
Shows the interpolations. Miss.
‘The blow which, when the clapper slips
Falls on your friend, the Bell,
Changes its circle to ellipse,
(A word you’d better spell)
And then comes elasticity.
Restoring what it used to be.
‘Nay, making it a little more.
The circle shifts about.
As much as it shrunk in before
The Bell, you see, swells out;
And so a new ellipse is made.
(You’re not attending, I’m afraid.)
‘This change of form disturbs the air.
Which in its turn behaves
In like elastic fashion there.
Creating waves on waves;
These press each other onward, dear.
Until the outmost finds your ear.’
‘And thenj papa^ I hear the sounds
Exactly what I said;
You’re only talking round and round.
Just to confuse my head.
All that you say about the Bell
My Uncle George would call a “sell.”’
‘Not so, my child, my child, not so.
Sweet image of your sire!
A long way farther we must go
Before it’s time to tire;
This wondrous, wandering wave, or tide.
Has only reached your ear’s outside.
‘Within that ear the surgeons find
A tympanum, or drum.
Which has a little bone behind—
Malleus it’s called by some;
But those not proud of Latin Grammar,
Humbly translate it as the hammer.
‘ The Wave’s vibrations this transmits.
On to the incus bone,
(Incus means anvil, which it hits,)
And this transfers the tone
To the small os, orbicular,
The tiniest bone that people carry.
‘ The stapes next—the name recalls
A stirrup’s form, my daughter—
Joins three half-circular canals.
Each fill’d with limpid water;
Their curious lining, you’ll observe.
Made of the auditory nerve.
‘ This vibrates next—and then we find
The mystic work is crown’d.
For there my daughter’s gentle mind
First recognizes sound.
See what a host of causes swell
To make up what you call “the Bell.”’
Awhile she paused, my bright Louise,
And ponder’d on the case;
Then, settling that he meant to tease,
She slapp’d her father’s face,
‘You bad old man to sit and tell
Such gibberybosh about a Bell!’