THE 'SNIPES' LAMENT
Now each of us from time to time, has gazed upon the sea
And watched the warships pulling out, to keep their country free
And most of us have read a book, or heard a lusty tale,
About the men who sail these ships, through lightning, wind, and hail.
But there's a place within each ship that legends fail to teach.
It's 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 makes the shafts go round
A place of fire and noise and heat that beats your spirit down.
Where boilers like a hellfish heart, with blood of angry steam.
Are of molded gods without remorse, are nightmares in a dream.
Whose threat from the fires road, as like living doubt,
That any minute would with scorn, escape and crush you out.
Where turbines scream like tortured souls, alone and lost in hell,
As ordered from above somewhere, they answer every bell.
The men who keep the fires lit, and make the engines run,
Are strangers to the world of night, and rarely see the sun.
They have no time for man or God, no tolerance for fear,
Their aspect pays no living thing, the tribute of a tear.
For there's not much that men can do, that these men haven't done,
Beneath the decks, 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 an angry sea,
The men below just grimly smile, at what their fate might be.
They're locked in below like men fore doomed, who hear no battle cry,
It's 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.
So if you ever write their sons, or try to tell their tale,
The very words would make you hear, a fire furnace's wail.
And people as a general rule, don't hear of men of steel,
So little heard about the place that sailors call the hole.
But I can sing about this place , and try to make you see,
The hardened life of men down there, cause one of them is me.
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, till 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".