Men Below Deck

A poem by Joseph Horatio Chant

The battleship its anchor weighs,
And belches forth its thunder;
Its commodore all classes praise,
And at his victories wonder;
And well they may--for braver man
Ne'er wielded sword or sabre;
But tell me, brother, if you can,
Who did the lowly labor.

Below the deck in engine-room,
As oilers and coal-heavers?
Amidst the smut and ghastly gloom,
Who worked the iron levers?
And thus it is in other lines;
Brave men are often hidden
"Below the deck," in shops and mines,
To higher plane unbidden.

The men on deck the praise receive,
But meagre thanks the others;
As honest men they seldom grieve,
And envy not their brothers;
A common cause they gladly serve,
Though in a lowly station,
From path of duty never swerve--
Loyal to God and nation.

For when the smoke has cleared away,
And din of battle ended,
On upper deck, in bright array,
By angel bands attended,
The whole ship's crew will then appear,
From high and lowly station,
And each the words "well done" shall hear,
'Midst shouts of acclamation.

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