The endless noon, the endless evening through,
All other needs forgetting, great or small,
They drank despair with thirst whose torment grew
As the hours died beneath that stifling pall.
At last they saw the fires to blackness fall
One after one, and slowly turned them home,
A little longer yet their own to call
A city enslaved, and wear the bonds of Rome,
With weary hearts foreboding all the woe to come.
(The Dictionary Of National Biography)
Sitting at times over a hearth that burns
With dull domestic glow,
My thought, leaving the book, gratefully turns
To you who planned it so.
Not of the great only you deigned to tell—–
The stars by which we steer—–
But lights out of the night that flashed, and fell
Tonight again, are here.
Such as were those, dogs of an elder day,
Who sacked the golden ports,
And those later who dared grapple their prey
Beneath the harbour forts:
Some with flag at the fore, sweeping the world
To find an equal fight,
And some who joined war to their trade, and hurled
Ships of the line in flight.
Whether their fame centuries long should ring
They cared not over-much,
But cared greatly to serve God and the king,
And keep the Nelson touch;
And fought to build Britain above the tide
Of wars and windy fate;
And passed content, leaving to us the pride
Of lives obscurely great.
Let others praise, as fancy wills,
Berlin beneath her trees,
Or Rome upon her seven hills,
Or Venice by her seas;
Stamboul by double tides embraced,
Or green Damascus in the waste.
For me there’s nought I would not leave
For the good Devon land,
Whose orchards down the echoing cleeve
Bedewed with spray-drift stand,
And hardly bear the red fruit up
That shall be next year’s cider-cup.
You too, my friend, may wisely mark
How clear skies follow rain,
And, lingering in your own green park
Or drilled on Laffan’s Plain,
Forget not with the festal bowl
To soothe at times your weary soul.
When Drake must bid to Plymouth Hoe
Good-bye for many a day,
And some were sad and feared to go,
And some that dared not stay,
Be sure he bade them broach the best,
And raised his tankard with the rest.
“Drake’s luck to all that sail with Drake
For promised lands of gold!
Brave lads, whatever storms may break,
We’ve weathered worse of old!
To-night the loving-cup we’ll drain,
To-morrow for the Spanish Main!”
Boys, are ye calling a toast to-night?
(Hear what the sea-wind saith)
Fill for a bumper strong and bright,
And here’s to Admiral Death!
He’s sailed in a hundred builds o’ boat,
He’s fought in a thousand kinds o’ coat,
He’s the senior flag of all that float,
And his name’s Admiral Death!