The Great War

from Poems of the Great War, an electronic edition

Sailor, What of the Debt We Owe You?

Sailor, what of the debt we owe you?

Day or night is the peril more?

Who so dull that he fails to know you,

Sleepless guard of our island shore?

Safe the corn to the farmyard taken;

Grain ships safe upon all the seas;

Homes in peace and a faith unshaken --

Sailor, what do we owe for these?

Safe the clerk at his desk; the trader

Counts unruined his honest gain;

Safe though yonder the curs't invader

Pours red death over hill and plain.

Sailor, what of the debt we owe you?

Now is the hour at last to pay,

Now in the stricken field to show you

What is the spirit you guard to-day.