Drake at the last off Nombre lying,
Knowing the night that toward him crept,
Gave to the sea-dogs round him crying,
This for a sign before he slept:—–
“Pride of the West! What Devon hath kept
Devon shall keep on tide or main;
Call to the storm and drive them flying,
Devon, O Devon, in wind and rain!”
Valour of England gaunt and whitening,
Far in a South land brought to bay,
Locked in a death-grip all day tightening,
Waited the end in twilight gray.
Battle and storm and the sea-dog’s way!
Drake from his long rest turned again,
Victory lit thy steel with lightning,
Devon, o Devon, in wind and rain!
“He leapt to arms unbidden,
His face by earth is hidden,
His heart in earth is cold.
“Curse on the reckless daring
That could not wait the call,
The proud fantastic bearing
That would be first to fall!”
O tears of human passion,
Blur not the image true;
This was not folly’s fashion,
This was the man we knew.
O Bitter wind toward the sunset blowing,
What of the dales to-night?
In yonder gray old hall what fires are glowing,
What ring of festal light?
“In the great window
as the day was dwindling
I saw an old man stand;
His head was proudly held and his eyes kindling,
But the list shook in his hand.”
O wind of twilight, was there no word uttered,
No sound of joy or wail?
“‘A great fight and a good death,’ he muttered;
‘Trust him, he would not fail.’”
What of the chamber dark where she was lying;
For whom all life is done?
“Within her heart she rocks a dead child, crying
‘My son, my ltttle son.’”
“When Lieutenant Murray fell, the only words
he spoke were,
‘Forward, Grenadiers!’”—–Press Telegram.
Here they halted, here once more
Hand from hand was rent;
Here his voice above the roar
Rang, and on they went.
Yonder out of sight they crossed,
Yonder died the cheers;
One word lives where all is lost—–
This alone he asked of fame,
This alone of pride;
Still with this he faced the flame,
Answered Death, and died.
Crest of battle sunward tossed,
Song of the marching years,
This shall live though all be lost—–
Our game was his but yesteryear;
We wished him back; we could not know
The self-same hour we missed him here
He led the line that broke the foe.