Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, WHEN THE GREAT GRAY SHIPS COME IN [AUGUST 20, 1898], by GUY WETMORE CARRYL



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WHEN THE GREAT GRAY SHIPS COME IN [AUGUST 20, 1898], by             Poet's Biography
First Line: To eastward ringing, to westward winging, o'er mapless miles of sea
Last Line: Gray ships come in!
Subject(s): Navy - United States; New York Harbor; Spanish-american War (1898); American Navy


(NEW YORK HARBOR, AUGUST 20, I'98)

To eastward ringing, to westward winging, o'er mapless miles of sea,
On winds and tides the gospel rides that the furthermost
isles are free,
And the furthermost isles make answer, harbor, and height, and hill,
Breaker and beach cry each to each, "'T is the Mother who
calls! Be still!"
Mother! new-found, beloved, and strong to hold from harm,
Stretching to these across the seas the shield of her sovereign arm,
Who summoned the guns of her sailor sons, who bade her navies roam,
Who calls again to the leagues of main, and who calls them
this time home!

And the great gray ships are silent, and the weary watchers rest,
The black cloud dies in the August skies, and deep in the golden west
Invisible hands are limning a glory of crimson bars,
And far above is the wonder of a myriad wakened stars!
Peace! As the tidings silence the strenuous cannonade,
Peace at last! is the bugle blast the length of the long blockade,
And eyes of vigil weary are lit with the glad release,
From ship to ship and from lip to lip it is "Peace! Thank
God for peace."

Ah, in the sweet hereafter Columbia still shall show
The sons of these who swept the seas how she bade them rise and go, --
How, when the stirring summons smote on her children's ear,
South and North at the call stood forth, and the whole land
answered, "Here!"
For the soul of the soldier's story and the heart of the sailor's song
Are all of those who meet their foes as right should meet with wrong,
Who fight their guns till the foeman runs, and then, on the
decks they trod,
Brave faces raise, and give the praise to the grace of
their country's God!

Yes, it is good to battle, and good to be strong and free,
To carry the hearts of a people to the uttermost ends of sea,
To see the day steal up the bay where the enemy lies in wait,
To run your ship to the harbor's lip and sink her across
the strait: --
But better the golden evening when the ships round heads for home,
And the long gray miles slip swiftly past in a swirl of seething foam,
And the people wait at the haven's gate to greet the men who win!
Thank God for peace! Thank God for peace, when the great
gray ships come in!





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