John Barr

(1809-1889 / NewZealand)

from Articles Of War, Section II - Poem by John Barr

The coastline edges to the edge of our chart.
We move on a central, generous blue.
Wind high, ocean plain smack
tonnage our bow plows through,

the boiling salt excitement of our wake,
gone in minutes,
then birds on our bobbing crates
a thousand miles from land.

To pass the time
I try to teach our bosun mate
'Sailing to Byzantium.'
Good-natured, he laughs and laughs.

It is by no means enough that an officer o
f the Navy should be a capable mariner. H
e must be that, of course, but also a grea
t deal more. He should be the soul of tac
t, patience, justice, firmness and charity
. No meritorious act of a subordinate sho
uld escape without its reward, even if the
reward is only a word of approval. Conver
sely, he should not be blind to a single f
ault in any subordinate though, at the sam
e time, he should be quick and unfailing t
o distinguish error from malice, thoughtle
ssness from incompetency, and well meant s
hortcoming from heedless or stupid blunder.

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Poem Submitted: Thursday, January 14, 2016

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