Ivor Gurney

(1890-1937 / England)

Western Sky-Look - Poem by Ivor Gurney

When clouds shake out their sails
Before delighted gales,
I think the sailor-men at sea,
Hearing the engine throbbing free
Curse their today's fate that they must
Defeat Magellan with black dust,
Scrape deck plates till the nerves are worn -;
Whose fathers froze in desperate weather
Sail-handling in Death's despite together.
Here's never work that's fit for man,
Bristol Cabot, Drake, Magellan
Set man's strength square against the sea,
With courage broken and bulwarks lashed,
And seventh-Hell battle never drawn;
While here and now pale Duty does
Domestic service on bright brass. . . .
The sailor-men lift heart and eyes
To the thronged skies:
They cleave the air, leap winged to shake
More sails, more sails out; watch the wake
Of cirrus lengthen on the blue,
And run clean sailor-work to do . . .
Fall sheer ... to waste and paraffin -
Pistons gone tired of out-and-in.
Hard work as black and dull as sin.

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Poem Submitted: Tuesday, August 31, 2010

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