The Ship and the Man: 3. The Redemption

 

The sunlight glinted on the prison wall,
Gilding its ugly brickwork, grim and dour,
And there within a brazen bell did call
The summons of a pre-appointed hour.

Some broken human was to be set free,
Some broken human that had fouled the law,
Some broken human loosed to liberty,
Some broken human that was Satan’s paw.

And when he came the outside world to greet,
From it so long kept captive, there his eyes
Fell on a friend awaiting him to meet,
And welcomed him with manifest surprise.

One friend in all the world was left to him,
One friend of all the many he had known
Before his fate was sealed in prison grim,
Branded for ever, outcast and alone.

This friend was true: took him by the arm
And led him on to where a car did wait;
Took him into a world of love and charm,
Away for ever from the prison gate.

They reached at length his house. A home at last!
And there his friend assured him that his crime
Would buried be with failures in the past,
And life would start anew right from this time.

He told him of the ship that met her doom
Upon the rocks that flanked her home’s own coast,
Lost in the thunder and the tempest’s boom,
She that had been her owner’s pride and boast.

He told him also how that she was raided
From out the deep and trimmed for sea again,
And once again her name abroad was praised,
And once again she travelled o’er the main.

Her rudder strengthened where its weakness lay
Was stronger now than it had ever been;
Now she rode safely through the fiercest spray,
As confident and stately as a queen.

‘Take heart, my friend’, he said, ‘from her whose name
Is yours, and live again to lift your head
In quick forgetfulness of punished shame,
And build again the hopes that have been dead.

You still have God upon your side, and youth,
And there is yet your mother’s heart to cheer;
And for the sake of these, and me, and truth,
Take courage, start afresh, and have no fear!’

So like a ship’s course is our earthly life,
Beset by hidden currents, reefs and shoals;
Sometimes in calm, sometimes in mortal strife
With wind and sea, sail on our threatened souls.

The mists of doubt may fall on us and hide
The true direction of our vessel’s path,
And high on storms of passion we may ride,
And shipwreck come to us on gales of wrath.

But God’s love is a rudder and the hand
Upon the wheel is that of His dear Son.
He surely will our soul’s ship bring to land
Through Him the battle with the foe is won!

1925