We grimly kept our vanward path;
Over us hummed their shot;
But, silently, we reined our wrath,
Held on and answered not,
Till we could grip them face to face,
And pound them for our own,
Or hug them in a war-embrace,
Till we or both went down.
How calm he was! when first
The sharp edge of that fight.
Cabined with God alone he knelt;
The prayer still lay in light
Upon his face, that used to shine
In battle—flash with life,
As though the glorious blood ran wine,
Dancing with that wild strife.
“Fight for us, Thou Almighty
Give victory once again!
And if I fall, Thy will be done.
Amen, Amen, Amen!”
With such a voice he bade good-bye;
The mournfullest old smile wore:
“Farewell! God bless you, Blackwood, I
Shall never see you more.”
And four hours after, he had
With winds and troubled foam:
The Reaper was borne dead upon
Our load of Harvest home—
Not till he knew the Old Flag flew
Alone on all the deep;
Then said he, “Hardy, is that you?
Kiss me.” And fell asleep.
Well, ’twas his chosen
The deck in triumph trod;
’Tis well. A sailor’s soul should go
From his good ship to God.
He would have chosen death aboard,
From all the crowns of rest;
And burial with the Patriot sword
Upon the Victor’s breast.
“Not a great sinner.”
No, dear heart,
God grant in our death pain,
We may have played as well our part,
And feel as free from stain.
We see the spots on such a star,
Because it burned so bright;
But on the other side they are
All lost in greater light.
And so he went upon his way,
A higher deck to walk,
Or sit in some eternal day
And of the old time talk
With sailors old, who, on that coast,
Welcome the homeward bound,
Where many a gallant soul we’ve lost
And Franklin will be found.
Where amidst London’s
roar and moil
That cross of peace upstands,
Like Martyr with his heavenward smile,
And flame-lit, lifted hands,
There lies the dark and moulder’d dust;
But that magnanimous
And manly Seaman’s soul, I trust,
Lives on in some of us.
(October 11, 1797.)
BY ALFRED H. MILES.
We were lying calm and peaceful as an infant lies
Rocked in the mighty cradle of the ever-restless deep,
Or like a lion resting ere he rises to the fray,
With eyes half closed in slumber and half open for the prey.
We had waited long, and restless was the spirit of the fleet,
For the long-expected conquest and the long-delayed defeat,
When, uprose the mists of morning, as a curtain rolls away,
For the high heroic action of some old chivalric play.
And athwart the sea to starboard waved the colours high and free
Of the famous fighting squadron that usurped the loyal sea.