Stand by the Engines
Henry Lawson, 1890
On the moonlighted decks there are children at play,
While smoothly the steamer is holding her way;
And the old folks are chatting on deck-seats and chairs,
And the lads and the lassies go strolling in pairs.
Some gaze half-entranced on the beautiful sea,
And wonder perhaps if a vision it be:
And surely there journeys no sorrow nor care,
For wealth, love, and beauty are passengers there.
But down underneath, 'mid the coal dust that smears
The face and the hands, work the ship's engineers.
Whate'er be the duty of others, 'tis theirs
To stand by their engines whatever occurs.
The sailor may gaze on the sea and the sky;
The sailor may tell when the danger is nigh;
But when Death his black head o'er the waters uprears,
Unseen he is met by the ship's engineers.
They are thrown from their feet by the force of a shock;
They know that their vessel has struck on a rock.
Now stand by your engines when danger appears,
For all may depend on the ship's engineers!
No thought of their danger! No mad rush on deck!
They stand at their posts in the hull of a wreck,
Firm hands on the valves; and the white steam appears;
And down with their ship go the brave engineers!