Katharine Tynan

The Open Road

Katharine Tynan was an Irish-born writer, known mainly for her novels and poetry.

THE roads of the Sea
Are thronged with merchantmen;
East and West, North and South
They go and come again.

All precious merchandise
They bear in their hold:
Lest the people be starving
In the night and cold.

Now tell me, good merchants,
How this thing can be
That the white ships are thronging
The roads of the sea?

For there's death in the skies
And there's death on the earth;
And men talked of famine
And a frozen hearth.

Yet the ships they go crowding
The roads of the sea;
They bring home their treasures
To you and to me.

O listen, good people,
And hearing, praise God,
That the watch-dogs are keeping
The ships on their road!

They sit watchful and steady
Where the North winds blow;
Sleepless they are keeping
The roads the ships go.

In the day, in the hour,
They will spring--until then,
Their eyes keep the courses
Of the merchantmen.

Forget not, good people,
When ye heap the white board,
When ye draw to the hearth-fire,
To praise the Lord,

That the watch-dogs unsleeping
Keep the roads of the Sea,
Up by the Northern Lights
Where the great ships be.

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