The Ship-builders





THE sky is ruddy in the east,

The earth is gray below,

And, spectral in the river-mist,

The ship's white timbers show.

Then let the sounds of measured stroke

And grating saw begin;

The broad-axe to the gnarled oak,

The mallet to the pin!



Hark! roars the bellows, blast on blast,

The sooty smithy jars,

And fire-sparks, rising far and fast,

Are fading with the stars.

All day for us the smith shall stand

Beside that flashing forge;

All day for us his heavy hand

The groaning anvil scourge.



From far-off hills, the panting team

For us is toiling near;

For us the raftsmen down the stream

Their island barges steer.

Rings out for us the axe-man's stroke

In forests old and still;

For us the century-circled oak

Falls crashing down his hill.



Up! up! in nobler toil than ours

No craftsmen bear a part

We make of Nature's giant powers

The slaves of human Art.

Lay rib to rib and beam to beam,

And drive the treenails free;

Nor faithless joint nor yawning seam

Shall tempt the searching sea.



Where'er the keel of our good ship

The sea's rough field shall plough;

Where'er her tossing spars shall drip

With salt-spray caught below;

That ship must heed her master's beck,

Her helm obey his hand,

And seamen tread her reeling deck

As if they trod the land.



Her oaken ribs the vulture-beak

Of Northern ice may peel;

The sunken rock and coral peak

May grate along her keel;

And know we well the painted shell

We give to wind and wave,

Must float, the sailor's citadel,

Or sink, the sailor's grave.



Ho! strike away the bars and blocks,

And set the good ship free!

Why lingers on these dusty rocks

The young bride of the sea?

Look! how she moves adown the grooves,

In graceful beauty now!

How lowly on the breast she loves

Sinks down her virgin prow.



God bless her! wheresoe'er the breeze

Her snowy wing shall fan,

Aside the frozen Hebrides,

Or sultry Hindostan!

Where'er, in mart or on the main,

With peaceful flag unfurled,

She helps to wind the silken chain

Of commerce round the world!



Speed on the ship! But let her bear

No merchandise of sin,

No groaning cargo of despair

Her roomy hold within;

No Lethean drug for Eastern lands,

Nor poison-draught for ours;

But honest fruits of toiling hands

And Nature's sun and showers.



Be hers the Prairie's golden grain,

The Desert's golden sand,

The clustered fruits of sunny Spain,

The spice of Morning-land!

Her pathway on the open main

May blessings follow free,

And glad hearts welcome back again

Her white sails from the sea

1846.





The Sentence Of John L Brown The Shoemakers facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

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