The Great War

from Poems of the Great War, an electronic edition

The Unconquered Hope

(A ship recently arrived in England from America, laden with toys, the gift of the American people, for the children both of the Allies and the Enemy.)

From sea to sea, from shore to shore,

The clouds of death and doom

Veil the sun's soft and kindly beam; --

Yet, can ye see one light agleam

Where a stately ship comes threading

Its pathway thro' the gloom?

Say ye 'tis but a ship of steel?

Are ye so dead, so blind!

Can ye not see the rainbow spray

That dances on the good ship's way,

Nor hear the strange, deep whispers

That wander on the wind?

What are the gifts the proud ship brings

To the weary world and old?

Trifles to fill a childish hand?

Why, hardly the angels understand

The richness of the treasure

That lies within its hold!

Oh, breaking thro' the mist of dreams

That wreathe the distant bar,

The vessel comes with a strange light dress'd,

And, tho' it sails from out the West,

Upon its flag there glistens

A golden Eastern star!

For when the world is blackest,

And man is blind with blood

And buried deep in his guilt and pride,

This is the ship that takes the tide

And sends its lamp of healing

Across the soul's dark flood.

It comes once more as it oft has come,

With its faƫry wings outspread --

Can ye not see them, eyes that grope,

Nor read its name, The Unconquered Hope,

Nor yet discern the halo

Around its Figurehead?

What are the gifts the proud ship brings?

Oh childish smiles and tears;

Oh childish faith that breaks thro' all

The sin that holds the world in thrall!...

A rift is in the darkness --

A ship, a ship appears.

Notes

(A ship recently arrived in England from America, laden with toys, the gift of the American people, for the children both of the Allies and the Enemy.)