The Ships That Won’t Go Down [poem by Henry Lawson]

[Editor: This poem by Henry Lawson was published in Verses Popular and Humorous, 1900.]

The Ships That Won’t Go Down

We hear a great commotion
’Bout the ship that comes to grief,
That founders in mid-ocean,
Or is driven on a reef;
Because it’s cheap and brittle
A score of sinners drown.
But we hear but mighty little
Of the ships that won’t go down.

Here’s honour to the builders —
The builders of the past;
Here’s honour to the builders
That builded ships to last;
Here’s honour to the captain,
And honour to the crew;
Here’s double-column head-lines
To the ships that battle through.

They make a great sensation
About famous men that fail,
That sink a world of chances
In the city morgue or gaol,
Who drink, or blow their brains out,
Because of ‘Fortune’s frown.’
But we hear far too little
Of the men who won’t go down.

The world is full of trouble,
And the world is full of wrong,
But the heart of man is noble,
And the heart of man is strong!
They say the sea sings dirges,
But I would say to you
That the wild wave’s song’s a paean
For the men that battle through.



Source:
Henry Lawson. Verses Popular and Humorous, Angus and Robertson, Sydney, 1900, pages 99-100

Editor’s notes:
paean = a poem, hymn, or song of joy, praise, thanksgiving, or triumph; a piece of artwork, film, song, or written work that gives great praise

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