Every Time I See a Ship

When I think of all the great ships
That have gone down at sea
To lie along the bottom sands
Till time shall cease to be
With captains in their cabins
And slaves that sleep in rows
And dainty skeleton ladies
In ruffs and furbelows —
Oh, then I wish the ocean
Was a thing that had not been
Because of all the lives and ships
That have been lost therein....

When I think of all the glorious lads
That have been drowned at sea
Or have perished cluttered on a raft
'Mid its immensity,
Or, cast upon a black-washed rock,
Ringed round with creeping foam,
Have crouched in clouds of crying gulls
Until their souls went home —
Oh, then I wish the ocean
Was a thing God had not made
To set about ten thousand shores
Its infinite ambuscade.

Yet every time I see a ship
Go dwindling far to sea,
In spite of all its deaths, I'm glad
For its waters rolling free
Where men may learn that courage
Is more than precious stones,
That the soul is more forever
Than its house of flesh and bones:
For the glory of the greatened man
That its wars and waves have built
I am glad God poured the ocean
Like a thing the sky has spilt!
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