All night long do you know it? Do you care?
Up and down the ocean beaches they are marching;
All the lanesome peril of the winter nights they dare,
Where the surf shoots, seething, landward in the bitter, biting air;
And the fitful lights and shadows of the lanterns that they bear
Make more wild the gloomy sky above them arching
Where the coast is bleak and cold;
Where the rocks are high and bold,
While the wind and snow and sleet are beating;
Where the breakers rush and roar,
There they watch for ships ashore,
The cry for help with instant succor meeting.
All night long where the surges flood the dunes,
Stern watch and ward they keep, strong eyes sweeping
The offing, while the breakers are roaring savage runes,
While the stormy winds are howling or wailing dismal tunes,
While the rocks and sands about them are becoming broad lagoons,
The life-saving watch these braves are keeping.
All night long while the timid landsmen sleep,
Dreaming, snug and warm, on their downy pillows,
The coast-guard, the surf-men down by the deep,
Steadfastly, bravely, their watch heroic keep,
Or into the sea—icy cold—they boldly leap,
To rescue fellow-men from the billows.
Talk not of heroes whose trade it is to kill!
Life savers! these are the god-like heroes still,
Risking their lives for every life they save
From the plunging wreck, or snatch from swirling wave.
O when your beds are warm,
In nights of winter storm,
When you are safe from wind and sea—
Think of the surf-men brave:
Their life watch by the wave,
And cheer them by your grateful sympathy.