The Way the Sail Is Set
I stood beside the open sea;
The ships went sailing by;
The wind blew softly o’er the lea;
The sun had cloudless sky.
Some ships sailed eastward, some sailed west,
Some north, some southward trend.
How can ships sail this way and that?
But one way blows the wind.
An old sea captain made reply
(His locks with salt spray wet):
“ ’Tis not the wind decides the course;
’Tis the way the sails are set.”
I stand beside the sea of life;
The ships go sailing by;
The winds blow fair from heaven’s land;
No clouds bedim the sky.
But one sails eastward, one sails west,
One north, one southward goes:
How can ships sail this way and that
With selfsame wind that blows?
A voice made answer to my soul:
“ ’Tis not how blows the gale;
Each voyager decides the goal
By the way he sets the sail.”