The Ship Of State - A Sentiment

A poem by Oliver Wendell Holmes

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.

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