“The Little Wooden Ship” [poem by L. E. Homfray]

[Editor: This poem by L. E. Homfray was published in Australians, Awake! And Other Poems (1915).]

“The Little Wooden Ship.”

It was only a poor and broken toy,
It was but little wooden ship;
But how strangely stirred is the mother’s heart,
And white with sorrow her trembling lip.

For the hands that fashioned that broken toy
Are calmly folded in Death’s last sleep,
And the child who was once his father’s joy
Is far away on the rolling deep.

As she waits alone in her widowed grief
Her thoughts go back to the days of old,
And ever in all her dreaming she sees
Her boy with his curls of shining gold.

As she holds in her hand his broken ship
She thinks of the storms and tempests wild,
The battle fierce, and the cruel foe
Circling the life of her only child.

She prays that He Who in deepest peril
Whispered “Peace!” o’er the troubled night
Will guide him safely, when storms are over,
Into the harbour of endless light.

And so for the sake of her only son
The mother’s heart, so loyal and true,
Is filled with a sympathy deep and wide
For even the humblest boys in blue.

And many a merciful act of love,
Some kindly message or word of cheer,
Is given to many a sailor lad,
With thoughts of the far-off one so dear.

So because of the memories sad and sweet,
For love of the dear, dead days of old,
The mother still treasures that little ship
A a miser hoards his wealth of gold.

L. E. Homfray, Australians, Awake! And Other Poems, Sydney: D. S. Ford, [1915?], pages 5-6

Editor’s notes:
boys in blue = in a naval context, sailors (in the context of law and order, the phrase refers to police)

deep = the ocean, the sea (as used in the phrase “the deep blue sea”)

He = in a religious context, and capitalized, a reference to God

o’er = over (pronounced the same as “oar”, “or”, and “ore”)

[Editor: “He Who” is capitalized in the original text (a similar capitalization, regarding God, is used in “Hymn for Peace” with the words “Whose Throne”).]

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