With that in mind, I'd like to share this old poem written by Hilton Brown. It appears in several anthologies, and was originally published in Punch and reprinted in a weekly literary magazine, The Living Age, in 1916.
THE LITTLE SHIPS.
"The small steamer...struck a mine
yesterday and sank. The crew perished."
Who to the deep in ships go down
Great marvels do behold,
But comes the day when some must drown
In the gray sea and cold.
For galleons lost great bells do toll,
But now must we implore
God's ear for sunken Little Ships
Who are not heard of more.
When ships of war put out to sea
They go with guns and mail,
That so the chance may equal be
Should foemen them assail;
But Little Ships men's errands run
And are not clad for strife;
God's mercy then on Little Ships
Who cannot fight for life.
To warm and cure, to clothe and feed
They stoutly put to sea,
And since that men of them had need
Made light of jeopardy;
Each in her hour her fate did meet
Nor flinched nor made outcry;
God's love be with these Little Ships
Who could not choose but die.
To friar and nun, and every one
Who lives to save and tend,
Sisters were these whose work is done
And cometh thus to end;
Full well they know what risk they ran
But still were strong to give;
God's grace for all the Little Ships
Who died that men might live.
Normally a poem like this would strike me as a bit overwrought, but not this week.
Join Mary Lee at A Year of Reading for the Poetry Friday Round-Up.