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THE SAILOR-MAN

Permission of Life, New York

I like the look of khaki and the cut of army wear,
And the men of mettle sporting it, at home and over there;
But there's something at the heart-strings that tautens when I meet
A blue-clad sailor-man adrift, on shore-leave from the fleet.


From flapping togs his sea-legs win some tinge of old romance
That's proper to the keeper of the paths that lead to France;
For what were all the soldiers worth that ever tossed a gun
Without the ships and sailor-men to pit them 'gainst the Hun!


There's sunlight now and steady ground beneath the sailor's tread,
And every pleasure beckons him, and every snare is spread;
Speed well this visitor, whose home 'twixt heaving decks is set,
Whose playmates are the darkness, and the bitter cold, and wet!


His comrades these; his foe is ours, the foe of law and right,
The stealthy, murderous German "fish," that prowls and kills by night;
And none may sink him where he swims, flouting God's age-built plan,
None but the guardian of us all, the rolling sailor-man.
His hands are often cruel cold; his heart is oftener warm,
For in its depths he knows 'tis he that shields the world from harm;
Because I know it too, my heart beats warmer when I meet
A blue-clad sailor-man adrift, on shore-leave from the fleet.