The Snipe's Lament

Now each of us from time to time, has gazed upon the sea
And watched the warships pulling out to keep this country free
And most of us have read a book or heard a lusty tale
About the men who sail these ships through light'ning, wind and hail
But there's a place within each ship that legend fails to teach

Its down below the waterline, it takes a living toll
A hot metal living hell that sailors call the hole
It houses engines run by steam that make the shafts go round
A place of fire and noise and heat that beats your spirits down
Where boilers like hellish heart with blood of angry steam
Are moulded gods without remorse, are nightmares in a dream

You have no time for man or god, no tolerance or fear
Your aspects pay no living thing the tribute of a tear
For there's not much that man can do that these men haven't done
Beneath the deck deep in the hole to make the engines run
And every hour of every day they keep the watch in hell
For if the fires ever fail their ship's a useless shell

When ships converge to have a war upon the angry sea
The men below just grimly smile at what their fate might be
They're locked in below like men foredoomed who hear not battle cry
Its well assumed that if they're hit the men below will die
For every day's a war down there when the gauges all read red
Twelve hundred pounds of heated steam can kill you mighty dead

I've seen these sweat soaked heroes fight in superheated air
To keep their ship alive and right though no one knows they're there
And thus they'll fight for ages on til warships sail no more
Amid the boiler's mighty heat and the turbine's hellish roar
So when you see a ship pull out to meet a warlike foe
Remember faintly, if you can, the men who sail below.
(copied from a bulkhead at BT "A" School, Great Lakes, Il.)
—Author Unknown



The Penalty of Leadership

In every field of human endeavor, he that is first must perpetually live in the white light of publicity. Whether the leadership be vested in a man or in a manufactured product, emulation and envy are ever at work. In art, in literature, in music, in industry, the reward and the punishment are always the same. The reward is widespread recognition; the punishment, fierce denial and detraction. When a man’s work becomes a standard for the whole world, it also becomes a target for the shafts of the envious few. If his work be mediocre, he will be left severely alone – if he achieve a masterpiece, it will set a million tongues a -wagging. Jealousy does not protrude its forked tongue at the artist who produces a commonplace painting. Whatsoever you write, or paint, or play, or sing, or build, no one will strive to surpass or to slander you unless your work be stamped with the seal of genius. Long, long after a great work or a good work has been done, those who are disappointed or envious, continue to cry out that it cannot be done. Spiteful little voices in the domain of art were raised against our own Whistler as a mountebank, long after the big world had acclaimed him its greatest artistic genius. Multitudes flocked to Bayreuth to worship at the musical shrine of Wagner, while the little group of those whom he had dethroned and displaced argued angrily that he was no musician at all. The little world continued to protest that Fulton could never build a steamboat, while the big world flocked to the river banks to see his boat steam by. The leader is assailed because he is a leader, and the effort to equal him is merely added proof of that leadership. Failing to equal or to excel, the follower seeks to depreciate and to destroy – but only confirms once more the superiority of that which he strives to supplant. There is nothing new in this. It is as old as the world and as old as human passions – envy, fear, greed, ambition, and the desire to surpass. And it all avails nothing. If the leader truly leads, he remains – the leader. Master-poet, master-painter, master-workman, each in his turn is assailed, and each holds his laurels through the ages. That which is good or great makes itself known, no matter how loud the clamor of denial. That which deserves to live — lives.
written by Theodore F. MacManus

A deadly viper once bit a hole snipe's hide; But 'twas the viper, not the snipe, that died.

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El Paso, Texas, United States
Native Texan · Navy Veteran · Various Scars and Tattoos · Forged in Fire · Never Schooled and Yet Learned

One from the archives

Post #269

What's money?  A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and gets to bed at night, and in between he does what he wants to do. —B...