Ship Logs

Admiral Ronald A. Hopwood, RN

Ship logs for firewood — take them as you find them,
Broken ends of timber that are good for nothing more,
Lying in the breaker's yard, working days behind them;
You should know the feeling now you've settled down on shore!
Bought your little farm again, left the sea for good now?
Playing at forgetting it, pretending not to care?
Draw the curtains closer, man, and fetch a load of wood now,
Pile the hearth with ship logs and — light them if you dare!

Ship logs for firewood — listen how they chatter,
Whispering excitedly in many tongues of flame,
Gossip from the Seven Seas, things that really matter,
All the ships you ever loved calling you by name;
Plucking at the lashing that so pitilessly bind you,
Dragging at the anchors that you thought could hold their own,
Dressed in rainbow fashion, they have come ashore to find you;
P'r'aps they know it's bad for you to sit and brood alone.

Ship logs for firewood — louder still and brighter,
So the Roaring Forties to the south'ard of St. Paul
Called you in the eighties; you were younger then and lighter,
Raced the upper-yard men once and fairly beat them all;
Hark! Your sailing orders; there's the pennant up there flying
Ninety yards astern of you to track the homeward bound;
Sweethearts on the tow-rope, with a pull there's no denying,
Stamp and go together, draw you home to Plymouth Sound.

Ship logs for firewood — only fit for burning;
Even as they're dying see how cheerily they blaze;
Think of that a minute, and you're in the way of learning
Something that will see you through the dreariest of days!
Get another lorry-load and never have a doubt of them,
Then, with humble gratitude for all they have to give,
Ply the bellows lustily and get their secrets out of them;
Ship logs for firewood will teach you how to live!

Poem set to music by Mysha.


last modified 14 November 2015; last updated 23 October 2015

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