The sea has captivated the imagination of people throughout history, inspiring countless works of literature, music, and art.
One of the most enduring forms of expression that the sea has inspired is poetry. From the ancient Greeks to the modern day, poets have sought to capture the mystery, power, and beauty of the ocean in verse.
In this article, we will explore some classic sailing poems that will transport you to the world of the sea.
These poems capture the thrill of the open water, the vastness of the ocean, and the bravery of sailors who venture into its depths.
Whether you are an experienced sailor or simply a lover of poetry, these poems about sailing are sure to evoke the magic and wonder of the sea.
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Famous Sailing Poems
Throughout history, poets have been inspired by the sea and the art of sailing. In this category, we will explore some of the most famous poems about sailing, which have captured the essence of the seafaring life.
1. A Gray Day
by Ruby Archer
A gray day, and the gulls are gone.
Visor of mist o’er the sun is drawn.
The cordage creaks and the sails all strain,
The deck is drenched with the rushing rain,
The waves leap strong at the struggling keel,
And the ship rides madly with plunge and reel.
But the sailors shout as they haul away,
And merrily sing, for its naught care they
For the wind that screams on the lee,
Or a gray day out at sea.
2. The Sailor’s Appeal
by Lydia Howard Sigourney
Ye dwellers on the stable land,
Of danger what know ye,
Like us who brave the whelming surge,
Or trust the treacherous sea?
The fair trees shade you from the sun,
You see the harvests grow,
And breathe the fragrance of the breeze
When the first roses blow.
You slumber on your beds of down,
Close wrapp’d in chambers warm,
Lull’d only to a deeper dream
By the descending storm;
While high amid the slippery shroud
We make our midnight path,
And e’en the strongest mast is bow’d
Beneath the tempest’s wrath.
Yet still, what know ye of the joy
That lights our ocean-strife,
When on its way our gallant ship
Rides like a thing of life;
When gayly towards the wish’d-for port
With favouring wind we stand,
Or first your misty line descry,
Hills of our native land!
There’s deadly peril in our path
Beyond the wrecking blast,
A peril that may reach the soul
When life’s short voyage is past;
Send us your Bibles when we go
To dare the whelming wave,
Your men of prayer, to teach us how
To meet a watery grave.
And, Saviour! thou whose foot sublime
The foaming surge did tread,
Whose hand the rash disciple drew
From darkness and the dead,
Oh! be our Ark when floods descend,
When thunders shake the spheres,
Our Ararat when tempests end,
And the green earth appears.
3. A Sailor Bold
by Annette Wynne
Sometimes I think I’d like to roam,
A sailor bold across the sea,
But how could Mother stay at home
And be so very far from me?
For who would sing my sleepy song,
And tuck me in my sailor bed,
And say God watches all night long,
And kiss me when my prayers are said?
I wonder if the sailor lad
Is very, very lonely when
The loud wind blows; and is he sad,
And does he long for home again?
So, after all, I would not roam,
Until I’m eight to seas afar,
While I am seven I’ll stay at home
Where Mother and her kisses are.
4. The Sailor’s Consolation
by Charles Dibdin
One night came on a hurricane,
The sea was mountains rolling,
When Barney Buntline turned his quid,
And said to Billy Bowling:
“A strong norwester’s blowing, Bill;
Hark! Don’t ye hear it roar now?
Lord help ’em, how I pities all
unhappy folks on shore now!
“Foolhardy chaps who live in town,
What danger they are all in,
And now are quaking in their beds,
For fear the roof shall fall in;
Poor creatures, how they envy us,
And wish, as I’ve a notion,
For our good luck, in such a storm,
To be upon the ocean.
“But as for them who’re out all day,
On business from their houses,
And late at night are coming home,
To cheer the babes and spouses;
While you and I, Bill, on the deck,
Are comfortably lying,
My eyes! what tiles and chimney pots
About their heads are flying!
“And very often have we heard
How men are killed and undone
By overturns of carriages,
By thieves, and fires in London.
We know what risks all landsmen run,
From noblemen to tailors;
Then, Bill, let us thank Providence
That you and I are sailors.”
5. The Optimistic Skipper
by Amos Russel Wells
The skipper of the Mary Ann, a jolly chap is he;
With jaunty jest and merriment he gayly sails the sea.
He knows no navigation and he missed his course a mile,
But said, “It doesn’t matter, so long as I can smile.”
He ran against an island, and he almost sank the ship—
“Well, never mind!” he brightly said, “we’ll have a cheerful trip.”
He did not see the gathering storm, but roared a sprightly song.
“O sailors, keep a-singing, and the way will not be long!”
The tempest blew him eastward and the tempest blew him west;
Whatever way he travelled, he liked that way the best.
He lost his course entirely, but he never lost his grin;
Said he, “The bark of laughter is the ship to travel in!”
And somewhere on the ocean, from the tropics to the pole,
The storms are still a-buffeting that optimistic soul.
He knows no navigation, but “What’s the odds?” asks he,
“So long as I am sailing on the top side of the sea?”
6. The Pilot Lost
by Hannah Flagg Gould
Mariners! mariners, what will ye do?
The distant, fathomless deep ye’ve crossed.
Your rock-bound coast has risen to view;
And what will ye do? for your Pilot’s lost.
He, who had hastened through surge and foam,
And reef and shallow so freely passed,
To bring your ship with a welcome home,
Your faithful Pilot is gone at last!
His trusty boat has her trust betrayed!
Her master has done with the sail and oar.
And he, low under the waves is laid,
Who guided his thousands safe to shore.
He took his life in his friendly hand,
When venturing forth your lives to save.
To bring you again to your native land,
He hurried himself to a watery grave.
On earth’s broad bosom no verdant turf
Was marked for him in his final rest.
The deep green sea and her curling surf
Have pillowed his head and wrapped his breast!
The waves o’er which he would lightly skim,
When many a peril for you was run,
Are sounding a requiem over him,
And wailing the sorrowful deed they’ve done.
With the heart of a brother, an eagle’s eye,
And a pilot’s hand, when the heavens are dark,
And blast and billow are strong and high,
Who will now come to your wildered bark?
O, there is One, who the deep can smooth,
And hush the winds, who will still be nigh!
Listen! your trembling hearts he’ll soothe,
With ‘Mariners, be of good cheer—’t is I.’
Trust him while crossing life’s stormy sea.
In every peril he’ll lend you aid.
Your pilot through Jordan’s waves he’ll be.
Follow him closely and be not afraid!
7. The Mariner’s Dream
by William Dimond
In slumbers of midnight the sailor boy lay;
His hammock swung loose at the sport of the wind;
But watch-worn and weary, his cares flew away,
And visions of happiness danced o’er his mind.
He dreamed of his home, of his dear native bowers,
And pleasures that waited on life’s merry morn;
While Memory each scene gayly covered with flowers,
And restored every rose, but secreted the thorn.
Then Fancy her magical pinions spread wide,
And bade the young dreamer in ecstasy rise;
Now, far, far behind him the green waters glide,
And the cot of his forefathers blesses his eyes.
The jessamine clambers in flowers o’er the thatch,
And the swallow chirps sweet from her nest in the wall;
All trembling with transport, he raises the latch,
And the voices of loved ones reply to his call.
A father bends o’er him with looks of delight;
His cheek is impearled with a mother’s warm tear;
And the lips of the boy in a love kiss unite
With the lips of the maid whom his bosom holds dear.
The heart of the sleeper beats high in his breast;
Joy quickens his pulses,—all his hardships seem o’er;
And a murmur of happiness steals through his rest,—
“O God! thou hast blest me,—I ask for no more.”
Ah! whence is that flame which now bursts on his eye?
Ah! what is that sound that now ‘larums his ear?
‘T is the lightning’s red glare painting hell on the sky!
‘T is the crashing of thunders, the groan of the sphere!
He springs from his hammock,—he flies to the deck;
Amazement confronts him with images dire;
Wild winds and mad waves drive the vessel a wreck;
The masts fly in splinters; the shrouds are on fire.
Like mountains the billows tremendously swell;
In vain the lost wretch calls on Mercy to save;
Unseen hands of spirits are ringing his knell,
And the death angel flaps his broad wings o’er the wave!
O sailor boy, woe to thy dream of delight!
In darkness dissolves the gay frostwork of bliss!
Where now is the picture that Fancy touched bright,—
Thy parents’ fond pressure, and love’s honeyed kiss?
O sailor boy! sailor boy! never again
Shall home, love, or kindred, thy wishes repay;
Unblessed and unhonored, down deep in the main,
Full many a fathom, thy frame shall decay.
No tomb shall e’er plead to remembrance for thee,
Or redeem form or fame from the merciless surge;
But the white foam of waves shall thy winding sheet be,
And winds in the midnight of winter thy dirge.
On a bed of green sea flowers thy limbs shall be laid,—
Around thy white bones the red coral shall grow;
Of thy fair yellow locks threads of amber be made,
And every part suit to thy mansion below.
Days, months, years, and ages shall circle away,
And still the vast waters above thee shall roll;
Earth loses thy pattern forever and aye;
O sailor boy! sailor boy! peace to thy soul!
8. A Sailor Ballad
by Ruby Archer
Oh, tie your knot with a tug and twist,
And never a careless bend,
Look out for strands that you may have missed,
And never leave a loose end.
In law or love will the ruling hold:
If trouble away you’d fend,
Be careful ever, and often bold,
But never leave a loose end.
The lag or slip of a rope will give
A loop that you can’t defend.
You’ll hate yourself as long as you live—
Oh, never leave a loose end!
Some other fellow as quick as thought
Will do what you cannot mend—
Untie your luck or your true-love knot,—
So never leave a loose end.
9. The Old Sailor
by Margaret E. Sangster
I’ve crossed the bar at last, mates,
My longest voyage is done;
And I can sit here, peaceful,
And watch th’ setting sun
A-smilin’ kind of glad like
Upon the waves so free.
My longest voyage is done, mates,
But oh, the heart of me,
Is out where sea meets skyline!
My longest voyage is done….
But—can I sit, in peace, mates,
And watch the settin’ sun?
For what’s a peaceful life, mates,
When every breeze so free,
When every gale a-blowin’,
Brings messages to me?
And is the sky so shinin’,
For all it’s golden sun,
To one who loves the sea, mates,
And knows his voyage is done?
And, can a year on land, mates,
Match with one day—at sea?
Ah, every wind a-singin’
Brings memory to me!
I’ve crossed the bar at last, mates,
My longest voyage is past,
And I must watch the sunset,
Must see it fade, at last.
My steps are not so light, mates,
As they were, years ago;
And sometimes, when I’m tired,
My head droops kind of low—
Yet, though I’m old and—weary,
The waves that dance so free,
Keep callin’ to my soul, mates,
And thrill the heart of me!
10. Captain Lean
by Walter De la Mare
Out of the East a hurricane
Swept down on Captain Lean—
That mariner and gentleman
Will never again be seen.
He sailed his ship against the foes
Of his own country dear,
But now in the trough of the billows
An aimless course doth steer.
Powder was violets to his nostrils,
Sweet the din of the fighting-line,
Now he is flotsam on the seas,
And his bones are bleached with brine.
The stars move up along the sky,
The moon she shines so bright,
And in that solitude the foam
Sparkles unearthly white.
This is the tomb of Captain Lean,
Would a straiter please his soul?
I trow he sleeps in peace,
Howsoever the billows roll!
11. Sailing To-Night
There’s a ship on the sea. It is sailing to-night—
And father’s aboard, and the moon is all bright—
Shining and bright.
Dear Moon, he’ll be sailing for many a night—
Sailing from mother and me;
Oh, follow the ship with your silvery light,
As father sails over the sea!
12. The Sea-Boy
by Lydia Sigourney
“Up the main-top-mast, ho!”
The storm was loud,
And the deep midnight muffled up her head,
Leaving no ray.
By the red binnacle,
I saw the sea-boy. His young cheek was pale,
And his lips trembled. But he dar’d not hear
That hoarse command repeated. So he sprang,
With slender foot amid the slippery shrouds.
He, oft by moonlight watch, had lur’d my car,
With everlasting stories of his home,
And of his mother. His fair brow told tales
Of household kisses, and of gentle hands
That bound it when it ached, and laid it down
On the soft pillow, with a curtaining care.
And he had sometimes spoken of the cheer
That waited him, when, wearied from his school,
At winter’s eve, he came. Then, he would pause,
For his high beating bosom threw a chain
O’er his proud lips, or else he would have sigh’d,
In deep remorse, for leaving such a home.
And he would haste away, and pace the deck,
More rapidly, as if to hide from me,
The gushing tear. I mark’d the inward strife
Unquestioning, save by a silent prayer
That the tear wrung so bitterly, might work
The sea-boy’s good, and wash away all trace
Of disobedience. Now, the same big tear
Hung like a pearl upon him, as he climb’d
And grappled to the mast.
I watch’d his toil,
With strange foreboding, till he seem’d a speck
Upon the ebon bosom of the cloud.
And I remember’d that he once had said,
“I fear I shall not see my home again:”
And sad the memory of those mournful words,
Dwelt with me, as he pass’d above my sight,
Into thick darkness.
The wild blast swept on.
The strong ship toss’d.
Shuddering, I heard a plunge,
A heavy plunge,—a gurgling ‘mid the wave.
I shouted to the crew. In vain! In vain!
The ship held on her way. And never more
Shall that poor, delicate sea-boy raise his head,
To do the bidding of those roughen’d men,
Whose home is on the sea.
And never more
May his fond mother strain him to her breast,
Weeping that hardship thus should bronze the brow,
To her so beautiful, nor the kind sire
Make glad by his forgiveness, the rash youth
Who wander’d from his home, to throw the wealth
Of his warm feelings on the faithless sea.
13. The Fisher’s Wife
by Susan Rhyce Beckwith
Lonely, desponding—the gathering gloom
Slowly filling the quiet room—
Sits the fisher’s wife, with disheveled hair;—
What does she see in the darkness there?
Outside, the breakers, with sullen dash
Fling high their spray to the window-sash,
That, by the fitful gleams of the moonlight thrown,
Seems like prison-bars on her floor of stone.
On this same night, ten years before,
While the angry sea lashed the rock-bound shore,
She, anxiously watching, trimmed her light;—
And the waves were cold, and the moon was bright.
“Set the light, my lass, by the cottage door,”
Said the fisher that morn as he sought the shore;
“The moon will be up when I come to-night;
Her wake once crossed, I shall be all right.”
With earnest eye, since the waning day,
She had followed the moon in her upward way,
And her quivering wake on the midnight sea,
If there the looked-for boat might be.
‘Mong the rocks, where shadows so darksomely hide,
Where the sea-foam that wreathed them was gone with the tide
With tight’ning hands o’er the sickening heart,
With blanching cheek, and lips apart—
Like a statue she stood, so cold and white,
Searching, but vainly, into the night.
A tiny form with outstretched hands,
And pink feet glancing among the sands,
And a baby voice—”Mamma, mamma!”
But the merciless sea, shock after shock,
Assaulting the solid towering rock
With fearful echoes, re-echoing far,
Swallows the cry;
Did’st thou hear it not?
There’s a desolate heart and an empty cot.
And that little form, uncoffined and white,
Revealed by the gleams of the pale moonlight,
As pulseless it lay on the surf-washed shore,
Shall rest on her memory evermore.
‘Tis this she sees in that quiet room,
Where all is wrapped in the gathering gloom;
And alone—God help her! she sits apart,
With folded hands and a broken heart!
Short Sailing Poems
Sometimes, brevity is the soul of wit, and this is certainly true of sailing poetry. Here we have some sailing short poems, which distill the beauty and power of the sea into just a few lines.
1. Sailing Leaf
by Madeleine Mclaughlin
a leaf falls
the water ripples
nature’s boat sails away
2. Bright Lavender Leaves
by Gregory Golden
sharing the wind
by Shane Cooper
Sailing on air
4. A Nature Haiky for Once
by Anthony Souls
Leaves fall one by one
onto the shadowy pond
sailing in heaven
5. Rough Sailing
by Robert Heemstra
the storms at sea
are nothing to see
are you feeling sick yet?
6. Cumulous Vessels
by Raul Moreno
Armada of clouds,
Sailing across ocean skies:
by Jyoti Sonnet
The gigantic ship
sailing day and night to reach
A land far away
by Judy Konos
drifting over waves
sailing on a Sea of Joy
wish you could be here
9. On a Windy Day
by Asif Andalib
On this windy day
Boatmen are sailing their boats
In the wild river!
10. Sailing Away
by Chris Goombi
On the clear water,
A boat is floating away;
Its’ sails wave goodbye.
11. Summertime Fun
by Anna M Shepard
Summertime schools out
Reunions barbeques friends
Sailing surfing fun
by Michelle Faulkner
Jaunty flags flying
Crisp blue and white sailboats
Launch in open seas
13. To the Clouds
by Nadine Fababier
Pillows on the sky
Fading fast oh snowy clouds!
Like our lives…sailing
by Jacqueline Tuffnell
I watch the
as I would
Funny Sailing Poems
Sailing can be a serious business, but it can also be a source of great humor and merriment. In this category, we will explore some funny sailing poems that celebrate the lighter side of life on the water.
1. Sailor Bill and the Pelican
by John Williams
Sailor Bill decided to sail
Around the world where others had failed,
With him his trusted right hand man,
Cedric, the pelican.
Cedric would give him plenty of warning
When the seas looked like storming,
He’d flap his wings and do some squawking
Similar to as if the pelican was talking.
When there was no food on the table,
This smart bird was very able
To fly from the ship and catch some fish,
Then serve them up in sailor Bill’s dish.
Alas the pair were know well
At ports of call where the ocean swell,
They always seemed to be having fun,
Sailor Bill and his crew of one.
2. The Shipwrecked Sailor
by Rudolph Rinaldi
The shipwrecked sailor
from the North
lands on land
between the seas
nothing but trees
the trees shade him from the sun
in the sky
the sky provides a medium
in which the birds
from the trees
and the birds
nested in the trees
provide the sailor
birds to fry
the shipwrecked sailor
after his bird meal
still can’t fly
3. Sailor Boys
by Rocky Swartzfager
The sailor boys all play fun games
It was cute to see them get dames.
Some would get a kiss,
While others would miss,
Not even getting their names.
4. Shore Life for Old Sailor
by Jan Oskar Hansen
I found a sweet shop in the middle of nowhere, bought a box
Of Swiss chocolate took my sack of hay given to me by a kind
Farmer so I could make a mattress. Now I sleep on top of
The big kitchen table for fear of rats, with only a horse blanket
Between me and hard old oak. The candy seller’s daughter is
Getting married to her own image, a gilded mirror. Last night
I fell off the table dreamed I was back at sea and the ship was
Pitching and rolling; bet I gave the rats a fright.
I went to the wedding of the candy man’s daughter, it was
a sweet affair, colurful bonbons rained from the roof and
The priest looked as he was on a sugar rush, he cried when
She tenderly kissed the looking glass.
Things are looking up for me too, the farmer gave me another
Sack of hay and a rat catching terrier. I never made a mattress,
Gave the fodder to a starving mule. I sleep in a hammock and
It carries my dreams across many oceans.
5. Silly Sailor
by Joanna Davis
Once a silly sailor,
sat upon a ship
Drank a barrel of rum;
thought he’d take a dip
Looked left and right.
then over starboard side
Saw a hump back whale
so he asked him for a ride
‘No!’ Said the whale,
I’ve far too much to do
to spend time wasting
with a sailor as silly as you!
6. Show Me the Funny – A Sailor Went to See See See
by Sidney Beck
In Vladivostok, that’s a lot colder than Britain,
While my sub was in dock refittin’
After six months of sea-trials unremittin’,
I went to a burlesque show, of sailors befittin’.
In the crowds of fur-clad men sittin’,
I became a participant unwittin’
In a strangely familiar art-form, omittin’
No item of clothing and not quittin’.
She was one communist sex-kitten.
This girl unpeeled right down to her mitten:
Pink flesh was blue because it was frost-bitten –
Gave a new meaning to blue-movies yet unwritten.
All of a sudden I was smitten:
I saw her beauty was real fittin’
And thanks to stage lights she was well-litten.
It was my wife! – and her image was spittin’!
The last time I caught her, she promised she was quittin’!
7. Drunken Sailor
by Vince Suzadail Jr.
I heard Congress was spending money like a drunken sailor
And I thought this was disrespectful
Congress spends like they are obsessed
For the future they’re neglectful
It’s disrespectful to drunken sailors
It is totally wrong what they say
Drunken sailors never spent
Assuming their grandchildren would pay
I was once a drunken sailor
And you know what’s really funny
I always stopped spending
Whenever I ran out of money
Congress are elitist bastards
So let this story be known
When drunken sailors spent that money
They only spent their own.
Congress has no conscience
Part of the political machines
They can spell Integrity
But they don’t know what it means
I’d rather be a drunken sailor
And spend only what I amass
Than to spend it like a congressman
And be a horse’s (OH!! You know what I mean)
Sailing Love Poems
The romance of sailing has inspired many poets to write about the love that can be found on the open sea. In this category, we will discover some poems about sailing and love.
1. When We Were Young
by Daniel Turner
When we were young we loved our fairy tales
A frog could be a prince with just one kiss
Each cloud, a boat where dreamers could set sail
Imagination was the great abyss
Too soon we grew and lost our innocence
Found out that swords are never pulled from stones
That dreams come true but only with expense
And happy ever after’s come and gone
Yet some of us still wish upon a star
Believe that rainbows come with pots of gold
Reality is life for most comes hard
And love like water runs both hot and cold
Like you I wish that fairy tales came true
But grownups know they very seldom do
2. Where You Feel Near
by Carolyn Devonshire
Beneath the gilded clouds, there is a place
Where day’s first rays light up a sea of gold
Surrounded by slim stalks that bow in grace
To worship as the gentle winds unfold
And on this canvas there’s also a boat
Its bottom covered by the last night’s rain
So full that it can barely stay afloat
Upon green wetland shores it will remain
Just as the love we shared made full our hearts
Sweet memories of smitten teens live here
Their movie spun in nature’s finest arts
I wait, I watch and sometimes you appear
Each day while you’re away, I journey here
For it’s the only place that you feel near
3. Missed the Boat
by Elaine George
She sits in the old rocking chair
Threads of silver in her golden hair
Alone in the glow of candle light
She rocks so gently in the night
Outside the autumn leaves do fall
As shadows dance upon the wall
Crystal tears in eyes of china blue
Fall for the love she never knew
He came to shore that summer day
His schooner anchored in the bay
And with a glance her knees grew weak
She lost her voice and could not speak
For there he stood so tall and lean
The handsome man in all her dreams
And he broke her heart that summer day
When he said goodbye and sailed away
4. Sea Idyll
by Leo Larry Amadore
In a world of conflict and scheming,
may I never awaken from dreaming
of someday being able to float
out — out in my own little boat —
out on a moon-lit bay
where tropical waters play
and a cooling breeze drifts by.
The salt sea air would be bracing —
would set my weary heart racing —
there on that moon-bright bay.
Only gulls overhead, as they fly, and I,
would hear, from the sandy shore,
the palms as they rustle. I sigh —
oh — I never would ask for more
than to float on the nurturing sea —
only you, and the moon, there with me.
5. Reaching Deepest Oceans
by Charmaine Chircop
How far will I love you
As far as where moons immerse in deep seas
Beyond the edge of a tide’s crimson hue
Where your breath fills my sails with soft zephyr breeze
Lone I embark to our promised land
Across borders of secret pain
Under still stars,above drifting sand
Through anchored shadows of rain
Oh foreign eyes, but never distant
Your arms ‘safe harbor of a long embrace
Two souls entwined, two hearts persistent
Beneath night’s sky, my lips outline your face
Water rise, water falls between shores and time
6. My Boat
by Sunshine Smile
Love my name ~ but never take it
Feel my heart ~ but never crush it
Read my words ~ but never destroy them
Warm yourself in the sun ~ but share it with me
Listen for my sad song ~ comfort me
See my smile ~ laugh along with me
A poem from my soul ~ I will be happy to share
A thought taking birth
Eyes that see even in deep darkness
A human being
I travel in my little boat in the open sea ~ there’s room for you too
The whole world in front of our feet
Sunrise and sunset
An adventure ~ if you want
Together ~ always
7. I Can Only Wish
by Mike Martin
I buried my boys today
Thirteen wasn’t bad enough
What a pain in my heart
It’s mine now, gone from them
They suffer no more
More than a hundred years
Barely seen half of that
I can only wish
Brothers to the very end
I can only wish
Love to take my boys out
Take them out all day
Take them to the running field
Run the while away
I can only wish
Love to buy my boat back
Buy it back all day
Wish I had my old boat
Wish I’d fish today
If I could only fish
8. Where I Want to Go
by Daniel Turner
I’d love to buy a boat and sail the seas
Just loaf and let the string of life unwind
Drop anchor anytime or place I please
To visit every island I can find
I’d sail from cape to cape, from gulf to strait
Each bay and channel up and down each coast
My dog would be companion and first mate
Most likely, he’d be sleeping at his post
But every night we’d find a still lagoon
Perhaps we row ashore and build a fire
On first appearance, I’d harpoon the moon
And hold him hostage until we retired
A life at sea, beneath large wind filled sails
With peaceful friends, the dolphins, gulls and whales
9. Going to the Moon
by Earl Graham
I’m going to the moon tonight
in a boat with big white sails
and you can come too if you want too
just the two of us
in a boat with big white sails
going to the moon
we’ll sit real close and huggle to keep warm
and I’ll sing for you if you want me too
10. A Love Note to My Dream Boat
by Andrea Dietrich
come to me by night
when the world has gone to sleep
~in my bed I wait~
come blanket me with your love
rock me awake to passion.
11. Spiritual Warfare Begins
by Liam Mcdaid
A sad state our government has become today
in this awful news that just pushes the boat out further
As our democracy for one protecting our children
Why it is even under attack beats me up inside moral grounds
this should not even be considered under the harshest circumstances
because it’s a humane act to love our little ones bless them with life
not kill them shows savages craving suffering judgemental fools
12. The Trinity Within
Self-discovery, a path beauteous
The table’s laid, everything’s ready made
When aligned with voice of conscience righteous
Bliss fills us as a consciousness upgrade
Ensconced in rapture thus, by day and night
Our attention is soon internalised
Wisdom downloads follow, clear is our sight
In timeless time, God within’s realised
Love, wisdom and power to co-create
The threefold flame of Christ within us glows
Soul presence celebrates at heaven’s gate
There’s no doubt, for we’re in the boat God rows
Oh hermit, know that we’re he, who we seek
God in-dwells within ~ let’s take a sneak peek
13. My Paper Boat
by Abby Aaron
I used a double sheet of newspaper;
to fashion a toy vessel a paper barge with a sail.
Excited I took it to the small river;
runs near my home.
I placed it in the water;
much to my delight it floated.
I followed my creation.
As it sailed I couldn’t help thinking;
whatever floats your boat?
Sailing Death Poems
In this category, we will look at some poems about sailing and death, which explore the solemn and profound aspects of the seafaring life.
1. Sea Canes
Half my friends are dead.
I will make you new ones, said earth
No, give me them back, as they were, instead,
with faults and all, I cried.
Tonight I can snatch their talk
from the faint surf’s drone
through the canes, but I cannot walk
on the moonlit leaves of ocean
down that white road alone,
or float with the dreaming motion
of owls leaving earth’s load.
O earth, the number of friends you keep
exceeds those left to be loved.
The sea canes by the cliff flash green and silver;
they were the seraph lances of my faith,
but out of what is lost grows something stronger
that has the rational radiance of stone,
enduring moonlight, further than despair,
strong as the wind, that through dividing canes
brings those we love before us, as they were,
with faults and all, not nobler, just there.
2. The Cup of Ocean
by Amos Russel Wells
What does the cup of ocean hold?
Glory of purple and glint of gold;
Tenderest greens and heavenly blue,
Shot with the sunlight through and through;
Wayward ripples that idly roam.
Tumbling breakers with gallant foam;
Sands and pebbles that chase and slide;
Mystic currents that softly glide;
Mighty spell of the ages old,
This does the cup of ocean hold.
What does the cup of ocean hear
To the lips of land folk everywhere?
Danger’s ominous, ghostly breath,
Battered forms of an awful death;
Howling tempests and bitter sleet,
Crash of the sea steeds’ terrible feet;
Ships a-quiver with fearful shock,
Anguish heaped on a savage rock;
Loss and turmoil and fatal snare,
This does the cup of ocean bear.
Look ye well to the ocean’s cup,
Ye who gladly on beauty sup.
Tarry long at the treacherous brink,
Gaze within e’er ye bend and drink.
3. I Am Standing Upon the Seashore
by Henry Van Dyke
I am standing upon the seashore. A ship, at my side,
spreads her white sails to the moving breeze and starts
for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength.
I stand and watch her until, at length, she hangs like a speck
of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other.
Then, someone at my side says, “There, she is gone”
Gone from my sight. That is all. She is just as large in mast,
hull and spar as she was when she left my side.
And, she is just as able to bear her load of living freight to her destined port.
Her diminished size is in me — not in her.
And, just at the moment when someone says, “There, she is gone,”
there are other eyes watching her coming, and other voices
ready to take up the glad shout, “Here she comes!”
And that is dying…
Death comes in its own time, in its own way.
Death is as unique as the individual experiencing it.
4. A Life on the Ocean Wave
by Epes Sargent
A life on the ocean wave,
A home on the rolling deep,
Where the scattered waters rave,
And the winds their revels keep:
Like an eagle caged, I pine
On this dull, unchanging shore:
Oh! give me the flashing brine,
The spray and the tempest’s roar!
Once more on the deck I stand
Of my own swift-gliding craft:
Set sail! farewell to the land!
The gale follows fair abaft.
We shoot through the sparkling foam
Like an ocean bird set free;—
Like the ocean bird, our home
We’ll find far out on the sea.
The land is no longer in view,
The clouds have begun to frown;
But with a stout vessel and crew,
We’ll say, Let the storm come down!
And the song of our hearts shall be,
While the winds and the waters rave,
A home on the rolling sea!
A life on the ocean wave!
by John Masefield
I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by;
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.
I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.
I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.
6. And Death Shall Have no Dominion
by Dylan Thomas
And death shall have no dominion.
Dead men naked they shall be one
With the man in the wind and the west moon;
When their bones are picked clean and the clean bones gone,
They shall have stars at elbow and foot;
Though they go mad they shall be sane,
Though they sink through the sea they shall rise again;
Though lovers be lost love shall not;
And death shall have no dominion.
And death shall have no dominion.
Under the windings of the sea
They lying long shall not die windily;
Twisting on racks when sinews give way,
Strapped to a wheel, yet they shall not break;
Faith in their hands shall snap in two,
And the unicorn evils run them through;
Split all ends up they shan’t crack;
And death shall have no dominion.
And death shall have no dominion.
No more may gulls cry at their ears
Or waves break loud on the seashores;
Where blew a flower may a flower no more
Lift its head to the blows of the rain;
Though they be mad and dead as nails,
Heads of the characters hammer through daisies;
Break in the sun till the sun breaks down,
And death shall have no dominion.
7. At Melville’s Tomb
by Hart Crane
Often beneath the wave, wide from this ledge
The dice of drowned men’s bones he saw bequeath
An embassy. Their numbers as he watched,
Beat on the dusty shore and were obscured.
And wrecks passed without sound of bells,
The calyx of death’s bounty giving back
A scattered chapter, livid hieroglyph,
The portent wound in corridors of shells.
Then in the circuit calm of one vast coil,
Its lashings charmed and malice reconciled,
Frosted eyes there were that lifted altars;
And silent answers crept across the stars.
Compass, quadrant and sextant contrive
No farther tides … High in the azure steeps
Monody shall not wake the mariner.
This fabulous shadow only the sea keeps.
8. Sea Calm
by Langston Hughes
How strangely still
The water is today,
It is not good
To be so still that way.”
Sailing Poems for Funerals
The seafaring life has a long and rich tradition of rituals and customs. Let’s, explore some sailing ship funeral poems to honor sailors who have passed away.
1. Bilbo’s Last Song
by J.R.R. Tolkien
Day is ended, dim my eyes,
but journey long before me lies.
Farewell, friends! I hear the call.
The ship’s beside the stony wall.
Foam is white and waves are grey;
beyond the sunset leads my way.
Foam is salt, the wind is free;
I hear the rising of the Sea.
Farewell, friends! The sails are set,
the wind is east, the moorings fret.
Shadows long before me lie,
beneath the ever-bending sky,
but islands lie behind the Sun
that I shall raise ere all is done;
lands there are to west of West,
where night is quiet and sleep is rest.
Guided by the Lonely Star,
beyond the utmost harbour-bar,
I’ll find the heavens fair and free,
and beaches of the Starlit Sea.
Ship, my ship! I seek the West,
and fields and mountains ever blest.
Farewell to Middle-earth at last.
I see the Star above my mast!
2. Crossing the Bar
by Alfred Lord Tennyson
Sunset and evening star,
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea.
But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
Turns again home!
Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
When I embark.
For though from out our bourn of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crossed the bar.
3. Gone From My Sight
by Rev. Luther F. Beecher
I am standing upon the seashore.
A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean.
She is an object of beauty and strength.
I stand and watch her until at length she hangs like a speck of white cloud
just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other.
Then someone at my side says, “There, she is gone.”
Gone from my sight. That is all.
She is just as large in mast and hull and spar as she was when she left my side,
and she is just as able to bear her load of living freight to her destined port.
Her diminished size is in me, not in her.
And just at the moment when someone at my side says, “There, she is gone!”
there are other eyes watching her coming,
and there are other voices ready to take up the glad shout, “Here she comes!”
And that is dying.
4. Psalm 23
The Lord is my pilot, I shall not drift.
He guides me across the dark waters.
He steers me through deep channels.
He keeps my log.
Yea, though I sail ‘mid the thunders
and tempest of life,
I shall dread no anger, for He is with me;
His love and His care, shelter me.
He prepares a quiet harbour before me.
He anoints the waves with oil
My ship rides calmly.
Surely sunlight and starlight
shall guide me on the voyage I take,
And I will rest in the heaven’s port forever.
5. Sailor’s Rest
by D.R. Block
When my sailing days are over,
And I sail the seas no more,
I shall build myself a refuge
By the ocean’s murmuring shore.
As I watch the foaming breakers
When the tide comes rushing in,
I will contemplate my lifetime
With its virtues and its sins.
Where the azure of the heavens
Meets the undulating blue,
Where the sweeping, soaring seagull
Flies its endless quest for food.
It is there that I would rest,
When my work on earth is done,
At the endless blue horizon
‘Neath the crimson, setting sun.
6. Some Time at Eve
by Elizabeth Clark Hardy
Some time at eve when the tide is low,
I shall slip my mooring and sail away,
With no response to the friendly hail
Of kindred craft in the busy bay.
In the silent hush of the twilight pale,
When the night stoops down to embrace the day,
And the voices call in the waters’ flow-
Some time at eve when the tide is low,
I shall slip my mooring and sail away.
Through the purpling shadows that darkly trail
O’er the ebbing tide of the Unknown Sea,
I shall fare me away, with a dip of sail
And a ripple of waters to tell the tale
Of a lonely voyager, sailing away
To the Mystic Isles where at anchor lay
The crafts of those who have sailed before
O’er the Unknown Sea to the Unseen Shore.
A few who have watched me sail away
Will miss my craft from the busy bay;
Some friendly barks that were anchored near,
Some loving souls that my heart held dear,
In silent sorrow will drop a tear
But I shall have peacefully furled my sail
In mooring sheltered from storm and gale
And greet the friends who have sailed before
O’er the Unknown Sea to the Unknown Shore.
7. The Voyage
by Christie Moore
I am a sailor, you’re my first mate,
We signed on together, we coupled our fate,
Hauled up our anchor, determined not to fail,
For the hearts treasure, together we set sail.
With no maps to guide us we steered our own course,
Rode out the storms when the winds were gale force,
Sat out the doldrums in patience and hope:
Working together we learned how to cope.
Life is an ocean and love is a boat,
In troubled water that keeps us afloat,
When we started the voyage, there was just me and you –
Now gathered round us, we have our own crew.
Together we’re in this relationship,
We built it with care to last the whole trip,
Our true destination’s not marked on any charts;
We’re navigating to the shores of the heart.
8. When the Last Hand Comes Aboard
by Richard John Scarr
No more a watch to stand, Old Sailor.
For you are drifting on an ebbing tide.
Eight Bells has rung. Last dogwatch done.
Now a new berth awaits you on the other side.
Your ship is anchored in God’s Harbour.
And your ship mates, now of equal rank.
Are mustered on the deck to greet.
And Pipe as you ascend the Plank.
Her Boilers with full head of steam.
Cargo stowed and alley stored.
Just waiting to get underway.
When the last Hand comes aboard.
Look sharp! That Hand is you, Old Sailor.
And you’ll be sailing out on Heavenly Seas.
May the wind be ever at your back.
Fair weather, and God Speed!
Sailing Poems about Life
Sailing is not just a hobby or a profession, it is a way of life that can shape a person’s entire worldview. In this category, we will delve into some sailing poems about life.
1. Shores of Majesty
by A.G. Paguican
A boat sails near a shore of crags and peaks,
A sight to thrill the heart and stir the soul,
The water’s gentle ebb and flow like mystic leaks,
That mark the passage of time’s endless roll.
The cliffs rise high, a fortress of stone,
Their ancient majesty and power on display,
The sailors feel so small, so alone,
As they navigate the treacherous bay.
2. A Bright Future
by Evelyn Judy Buehler
Pretty sailboats glide in molten sun
toward a new gold horizon
3. The Last Voyage
by Donald R Wolff
Standing in the harbor thinking this is The Last Voyage for me,
It’s a beautiful morning the sky is clear as far as the eye can see,
For some time, I’ve planned this trip I should already be home.
It’s with great sadness the time has come this trip I must sail alone,
The island people have been great everyone so kind.
I’m sure I’ll miss them I’ve got to get to Caroline,
Once I thought love would last forever, today everything’s gone.
Making The Last Voyage back to my mountain’s where I belong
The wind is filling the sail’s sea breeze on my face.
Good memories I will keep bad ones I’ll replace,
The sea has been a friend of mine since I don’t remember when.
Tonight, I’ll stand on deck with one last toast of bourbon and gin,
Sometime tomorrow I’ll will dock this boat at the Carolina shore.
I know it’s time for me to step aside no reason to sail anymore.
Deep in the forest is where I go to write it’s always been this way.
When I see and feel the sunny days, it will be a comfort to know I’m here to stay.
4. Sailing East
by Donald R Wolff Jr
Sailing, sails set with a heading east
Leaving the land to be lost to me
And there she will cry
Not long is Goodbye
Home, is the water and sky
5. Forests of the North Sea
by Hussein Dekmak
The moon hangs
In a sky of pale pink
Dipping slowly down
To kiss the tops
Of looming white figures
Rising from the sea
They reach for her
Hoping she might lift them
From their watery roots
Even the sea holds its breath
Waves calmed to mirror surface
Waiting for their reunion
Before the sun comes
To chase her from their sight
I stand alone on the deck
As my ship glides past
Knowing I bear witness
To a private moment
Yet being unable
To pull my gaze away
Dungeons, restless, protests,
sinking, dreaming, never redeeming,
Little irons bars separating me from those high ceilings.
Escape, escape, escape,
I must not, obey, sit still, feet ringing on the cement again,
Blues and golds, purples and dark oranges,
the ripple of clear water beneath the great beauty beheld,
God speaking to me in all his untarnished life.
The little bluebells that line the black cobblestones near the welcome sign,
the singing of the neighbor that forever follows,
the whispers of her inner mind.
Do I dare say I,
Those fitful, flightless days alone?
Maybe, maybe, maybe,
hollow was better than pure stone.
I once belonged, belong?
But I did.
I grazed the warm spirits of the waters song,
bent over the rim to explore depth of that below.
On top of the world I thought,
but only on top of a boat.
Who knew the currency I had baited,
by doing one retched thing,
disastrous to my bone,
the marrow yielding shame of that one fatal blow.
Now here I am..
Hell, is that so fitting?
All I want back is,
7. Dragon Sun Voyage
An orange dragon sun flames
above the starboard beam
in the crow’s nest a cloudless sky
clipper ship floats sapphire seas
through Viking channel trails
she drifts her goddess voyage
now in windless sails
The breath of Odin blows
upon the pearlescent deep
down below the mermaids sleep
dirges echo from Norman cliffs
while a crew of earth sons
sojourn to water’s glassy edges
silent stars row in lapis blue
as the flaming dragon dies
8. Waiting Boats
by Jonathan Moya
Two boats nested close
to each other on the shore
wait for those to sail them out
the tide to feel their steady hand
the wind to love their back
to love them back
to turn with the wind and turn
them back to the waiting shore
9. Let Us Sail at Sunset
let us sail together at sunset
into a tangerine sky,
may we cast our sail together
on this journey you and I,
meet the sunrise again on a distant shore
sail the ocean’s highway as lovers evermore
10. Sailing Through Moonlight
Into your arms
the moon’s blood
a silvered heart
with its beat
of a warm wind
bring the scent
of an island
the breath of spices
and pilot whales,
in their wake
You are constant,
an enemy and friend
eager to love or betray
to smile or to frown
at a moment’s notice
on your whim
And many times
I have witnessed
the depths of your rage
the bare savagery
of your soul
knowing you have no mind
for even the humblest
of all these creatures
11. Look Honey the Dolphins Are Smiling
A few glasses of wine is all it takes
to get me thinking about
sail boats again
In the movies
the ocean is always so blue
with barely a cloud in the sky
the boats drift on by effortlessly
pretty sails set so clean and white
and wherever you look there are dolphins
Drinks never get spilled
the wind is always on time
and the sweetest girls in bikini bottoms
just love to do all the work
so you can lounge around on cushions
wearing a hat that makes you feel
more important than you are
as you smile graciously
with the dolphins
Sure there’ll be times
when the sea gets a sulk on
and isn’t refusing to cooperate
every woman’s right…
but that second refill makes me wonder
Maybe I’m not too old
to climb the mast
when something expensive falls off
Not too old
to scramble on deck
when the anchor drags
in the middle of the night
Not too old
to cheat death on the rocks
or rescue canoeists in distress
Not too old
to fight off pirates and smuggle a case or two
Not too old
for those sweetest girls in bikini bottoms
still making me smile
like a dolphin
Then I remember
steering from the womb of the mother of all storms
nothing to eat and no sleep for three nights straight
the banshee wind howling in my eyes
I have no choice but to pee inside my pants
and no amount of Hail Mary’s full of grace
ever makes that fear smell sweeter
The dolphins stopped smiling then
they’d all hurried home to hide
before the growlers could hunt me out
tossing my puny world upside down
and only because I was fool enough
plain crazy enough
to be there
But I know every storm has an end
and if you live or die
the sea won’t give a damn either way
I’m drinking to that now
before I check out the boats for sale along the quay
trying just a bit harder
Sailing Poems That Rhyme
Now, we have gathered some of the most beautiful and evocative sailing poems that rhyme, each one a tribute to the timeless romance of life on the water.
1. As If the Sea Should Part
by Emily Dickinson
“As if the Sea should part
And show a further Sea
And that—a further—and the Three
But a presumption be
Of Periods of Seas
Unvisited of Shores
Themselves the Verge of Seas to be
2. Rime of the Ancient Mariner
by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
“It is an ancient Mariner,
And he stoppeth one of three.
‘By thy long grey beard and glittering eye,
Now wherefore stopp’st thou me?”
3. O Captain! My Captain
by Walt Whitman
O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done,
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won,
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring;
But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.
O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills,
For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths—for you the shores a-crowding,
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
Here Captain! dear father!
This arm beneath your head!
It is some dream that on the deck,
You’ve fallen cold and dead.
My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still,
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will,
The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done,
From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won;
Exult O shores, and ring O bells!
But I with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.
4. Dover Beach
by Matthew Arnold
“The sea is calm tonight.
The tide is full, the moon lies fair
Upon the straits; on the French coast the light
Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand,
Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay….
Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.”
5. Bon Voyage
by Tina Barry
We’ve gathered on the dock. Mother wears a custom-made
suit, bold black and white checks, the skirt fitted tight. My
sister and I teeter beside her, two untethered buoys, dresses
buoyant in the breeze. With her hand shading her eyes, Mother
watches the ship, a sailing city crammed with waving couples
against a white, white exterior. Bon Voyage, Bon Voyage, we cry
to friends of Mother’s, the wife barely recognizable
beneath a veiled hat. Corks burst from champagne bottles;
shrieks as the bubbling liquid pours over hands and arms. The
ship departs with an exaggerated HONK. We huddle in the back
seat of the car. Let’s pretend we’re sleeping on the
ship’s deck chairs, we whisper, and imagine the evening
growing colder. Perhaps we’d cling together, our shivering
bodies wrapped in widely-striped towels. Two girls alone on a
boat, the water black and rushing past, lips salty.
by Sara Barkat
The sails unfurl
the cries ring in the air,
the ship is on the waves of curls.
Ship rides o’er seas of pearl
while dragon rests in lair,
the sails unfurl.
Setting off to lands of kings and earls
the sailors eat some pears,
the ship is on the waves of curls.
One seaman’s known to love a girl
one boy climbs up a mount, on dare,
the sails unfurl.
by L.L. Barkat
Sometimes when the night comes on
and Venus rises bright over the river,
I think I can see a boat floating white
in the mist, and my heart opens
with a fainting motion, laying back
on its bed of flesh.
Oh, to see the boat, going its way
towards the great, unfathomable sea.
8. Surface Tension
by Chelsea Rathburn
In the park, a pond aflame
with painted wooden boats
plucks us from our way
to someplace else. And though
the pond, when we draw close,
is less a pond than a low,
wide fountain, and the boats
toys rented by the hour
to girls in ruffles and boys
with serious faces,
we only like it more.
—How often, how needlessly,
we complicate pleasure
with the pursuit of pleasure.
So for an hour or so
we let the basin swell
sea-wide. We clamber on
the banks with the children
we are not, clapping with them
to see the sails. And when
that blue craft we’ve named ours
glides out too far for sticks
to call it back, how grateful
we are (though we know
there’s nothing really to lose)
for the breeze that we can’t feel
that sends it sailing home.
by Dave Malone
The family pontoon attempts
to usurp dominant contrast
though your twin brother sticks out
his chest like a gangster—
your father’s fedora
slopes too close to his nose.
Straight as the safety railing,
your older brother locks hands
on hips. He manages
a squint for the camera.
The boat blushes mimosa pink
to be upstaged by such a young girl
on a summer day meant for boating—
not the boasting of calves, thighs, shins,
white as cottonwood blossoms,
long as drooping pines spilling out
of timber trucks.
O those legs kill the middle,
crown themselves the dominant
and hold up the body
that’s grown into the body I love—
the same quizzical eyes
which quicken me
when the camera shutter
We hope this collection of sailing poems has transported you to a world of adventure, beauty, and romance on the water.
Whether you’re an experienced sailor or simply a lover of poetry, there’s something magical about the way these poems capture the spirit of the sea.
From the sound of the waves to the salty spray on your face, these poems bring to life the thrill and wonder of sailing.
So let us know in the comments which poems for sailing spoke to you the most, or share your own favorite sailing poem. And until next time, may the wind always be at your back and the sun always on your face.