Verse > Anthologies > Andrew Macphail, ed. > The Book of Sorrow
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Andrew Macphail, comp.  The Book of Sorrow.  1916.
 
XX. The Burial
Messmates
By Sir Henry John Newbolt (1862–1938)
 
HE gave us all a good-bye cheerily
  At the first dawn of day;
We dropped him down the side full drearily
  When the light died away.
It ’s a dead, dark watch that he ’s a-keeping there,        5
And a long, long night that lags a-creeping there,
Where the Trades and the tides roll over him
  And the great ships go by.
 
He ’s there alone with green seas rocking him
  For a thousand miles round;        10
He ’s there alone with dumb things mocking him,
  And we’re homeward bound.
It ’s a long, lone watch that he ’s a-keeping there,
And a dead, cold night that lags a-creeping there,
While the months and the years roll over him        15
  And the great ships go by.
 
I wonder if the tramps come near enough
  As they thrash to and fro,
And the battle-ships’ bells ring clear enough
  To be heard down below;        20
If through all the lone watch that he ’s a-keeping there,
And the long, cold night that lags a-creeping there,
The voices of the sailor-men shall comfort him
  When the great ships go by.
 
 
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