We are the keepers of that steadfast light
That guides a people’s course and destiny;
Not ours the skill directing over the sea
The mighty beams that blaze the path aright:
Ours but the hands that, serving, keep it bright;
The bringers of the oil, the workers we
Who day long, without pause and faithfully,
Toil that its radiance may pierce the night.
Above us are the wills that guide and turn;
It is not ours to watch nor question these:
Ours but to see each wick is trimmed and fit,
Lest on a night of storm it fails to burn
And a Great Ship goes down in awful seas.
O Keepers of the light, keep faith with it!
This sonnet of World War I, by a Newark native, was first printed in the April 1918 issue of McClure’s Magazine.