A SNIPE'S LAMENT (Author Unknown)
Now each of us, from time to time, have 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 lightning, wind, and hail.
But there's a place within each ship that stories never reach,
And there's a special breed of man of which legends never preach.
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 shaft go `round,
A place of fire, noise, and heat, that beats your spirit down.
Where boilers like a hellish heart, with blood of angry steam,
Are modern gods, without remorse, are nightmares in a dream.
Whose threat that from the fires roar, is like a 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 light and rarely see the sun.
They have no time for man or god, no tolerance of 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, down in the hole, to make the engines run.
And every hour of every day they keep the watch in hell,
For if the fires should ever fail their ships a useless shell.
When ships converge to have a war, upon an angry sea,
The men below just firmly smile at what their fate might be.
They're locked below like men foredoomed, who hear no battle cry,
It's well assumed that if they're hit, the men below will die.
There's not much difference down below, whatever war might bring,
For threats of ugly, violent death, down there's a common thing.
For every day's a war down there, when gauges all read red,
Twelve hundred pounds of superheated steam can kill you mighty dead.
So every man down in the hole has learned to hate so well,
That when you speak to them of fear, their laughter's heard in hell.
The men below are fools who watch their spirits slowly die,
Who often can't remember how a cloud looks in the sky.
So if you ever write their song, or try to tell their tale,
The very words would make you hear a desperate spirit's wail.
And people as a general rule don't hear a dying soul,
So little is heard about this place that sailors call The Hole.
But I can sing about this place and try to make you see,
The hopeless life of men down there, `cause one of them is me.
And I've been down there for so long, that part of me has died.
The part that lives is without light, to be lost hope's guide.
I've seen their sweat soaked hero's 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 boilers mighty heat and turbines hellish roar.
So when you see a ship pull out to meet a warlike foe, Remember kindly, if you can, "the men who sail below".