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The Ship Of State Post by :jkane Category :Poems Author :Oliver Wendell Holmes Date :November 2010 Read :869

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The Ship Of State

A SENTIMENT

This "sentiment" was read on the same occasion as the "Family Record,"
which immediately follows it. The latter poem is the dutiful tribute of a
son to his father and his father's ancestors, residents of Woodstock from
its first settlement.

THE Ship of State! above her skies are blue,
But still she rocks a little, it is true,
And there are passengers whose faces white
Show they don't feel as happy as they might;
Yet on the whole her crew are quite content,
Since its wild fury the typhoon has spent,
And willing, if her pilot thinks it best,
To head a little nearer south by west.
And this they feel: the ship came too near wreck,
In the long quarrel for the quarter-deck,
Now when she glides serenely on her way,--
The shallows past where dread explosives lay,--
The stiff obstructive's churlish game to try
Let sleeping dogs and still torpedoes lie!
And so I give you all the Ship of State;
Freedom's last venture is her priceless freight;
God speed her, keep her, bless her, while she steers
Amid the breakers of unsounded years;
Lead her through danger's paths with even keel,
And guide the honest hand that holds her wheel!

WOODSTOCK, CONN., July 4, 1877.


(The end)
Oliver Wendell Holmes's poem: Ship Of State

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WOODSTOCK, CONN., JULY 4, 1877NOT to myself this breath of vesper song,Not to these patient friends, this kindly throng,Not to this hallowed morning, though it beOur summer Christmas, Freedom's jubilee,When every summit, topmast, steeple, tower,That owns her empire spreads her starry flower,Its blood-streaked leaves in heaven's benignant dewWashed clean from every crimson stain they knew,--No, not to these the passing thrills belongThat steal my breath to hush themselves with song.These moments all are memory's; I have comeTo speak with lips that rather should be dumb;For what are words? At every step I treadThe dust that wore the footprints of the deadBut
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