When you've failed with ordered people, when you've sunk neck-deep again
In the sluggish wash and jetsam of the slackened tides of men,
Don't get old and mean and bitter, - there's a primal remedy -
Just take a ship to sea, my lad, just take a ship to sea.
There are shipmen grey and aged but still full of ancient mirth,
And they drew their joy of living, not from rooting in the earth,
But from striking our forever with a sail that's never furled
And by seeing all the oceans and the wonder of the world;
In the dim, Phoenician days and in the wild sea-times of old
Do you think they only voyaged for the red of shining gold?
No, they slid beyond the sky-line for they felt it good to be
On a ship that tramped with thunder down the highways of the sea.
When you've drunk the lees of failure, when you've fought and never won,
When you've cursed the stale recurrence of the certain, weary sun
And the daily, fruitless struggle pledging youth for usury,
Come, and cast the world behind you, and take ship for open sea;
All you'll need will be your dunnage and your knife upon your hip,
And you'll find a bunk that waits you in the fo'c'sle of a ship,
And you'll find the wind about you and the everlasting sky
Leaning huge from four horizons as the flying scud blows by -
And you'll find the ancient healing, ever waiting, ever free,
That all men have found forever in the sailing of the sea.
Harry Kemp's Other Poems
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