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, "'Tis
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
Peace! As the tidings silence the strenuous
Peace at last! is the bugle blast the length of
the long blockade,
And eyes of vigil weary are lit with the glad
From ship to ship and from lip to lip it is
"Peace! Thank God for peace."
Ah, in the sweet hereafter Columbia still
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
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!
August 20, 2010
humorist (if you can say he is known at all), wrote a poem commemorating their arrival, "When the Great Gray Ships Come In":