One ship sails East...


Veteran Member
Reaction score
a figment of your imagination
Tis The Set Of The Sail…

But to every mind there openeth,
A way, and way, and away,
A high soul climbs the highway,
And the low soul gropes the low,
And in between on the misty flats,
The rest drift to and fro.

But to every man there openeth,
A high way and a low,
And every mind decideth,
The way his soul shall go.go.

One ship sails East,
And another West,
By the self-same winds that blow,
'Tis the set of the sails
And not the gales,
That tells the way we go.

Like the winds of the seasea
Are the waves of time,
As we journey along through life,
'Tis the set of the soul,
That determines the goal,
And not the calm or the strife.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Last edited:
I.saw this poem in a coffee shop one morning.

Just the "One ship sails..." Paragraph ... not the whole poem, and not the poet's name.

The essence of its allegory floored me and made my day. It was the days before cell phones and I copied it down on a napkin. It was a mantra in my pocket. A wrinkled scrap wrote and rewrote as I gave them away to people.

It was years before someone told me there was more. We had to wait till the internet for me to find the author.

Both titles are possible. I have had 45 minute discussions with middle and senior high school students in Sunday school on this poem alone. It is now one of two poems I frame and give to new parents. This one is for the childrens' bedroom ... imagine being one and hearing this read and discussed by adults that come into your room ... or as you grow chats with your friends that read it. Imagine having grocked this when you were young.
Ya gotta appreciate folks that make ya return to this poem.

Must be like believers who get so irritated with a person or situation they are "forced" into prayer. Gotta give thanx for the blessons!
In the UK we have Poems on the Underground – 3 or 4 times a year a set of six poems appear on the 'tubecards' – the advertising panels in underground trains. It's funded by Transport for London.

The programme was started by a New Yorker now resident in the UK.

But poems are – generally – good stuff. Food for the soul.