Tuesday 31 May 2016

To Ships and Men in War

Peace washes silent o'er the ocean bed,
  It sweeps both time and substance in its path.
The years roll forward, pass and make no scar
  Upon the toll of conflict's aftermath.

Gaunt timbers, rusted steel, encrusted chains
  Stand not as relics of a wanton life,
But serve as carven crosses in a world
  As yet untouched by needless human strife.

Here lie no marble vaults nor granite tombs,
  Sharp rock and silver sand serve in their stead,
No hymnals sound nor choristers are heard
  To chant in requiem for the turmoil's dead.

Destruction cries from every strangled spar,
  Brutality from every jagged plate,
And yet the deep remoulds and softens all
  The viciousness that man saw fit to sate.

A quiet hovers here, elsewhere unfound,
  And blesses with its touch and precious grace
The scaffold-skeletons of ships and dust of men
  Who, unknown, lie in this last resting place.

by A. R. Rogers

This poem is taken from Voices from the Sea : Poems by Merchant Seamen, edited by Ronald Hope and published in 1977 by Harrap (London) in association with the Marine Society.

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