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For a dozen times they came with their

pikes and musqueteers, And a dozen times we shook 'em off as a

dog that shakes his ears When he leaps from the water to the land.

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And the sun went down, and the stars

came out far over the summer sea, But never a moment ceased the fight of the

one and the fifty-three. Ship after ship, the whole night long, their

high-built galleons came, Ship after ship, the whole night long, with

her battle-thunder and Aame: Ship after ship, the whole night long, drew

back with her dead and her shame. 60 For some were sunk and many were shat

tered, and so could fight us no more God of battles, was ever a battle like this

in the world before?

And half of the rest of us inaimed for life In the crash of the cannonades and the

desperate strife; And the sick men down in the hold were

most of them stark and cold; And the pikes were all broken or bent, and

the powder was all of it spent; And the masts and the rigging were lying

over the side. But Sir Richard cried in his English

pride: "We have fought such a fight for a day

and a night As may never be fought again! We have won great glory, my men! And a day less or more At sea or ashore, We die — does it matter when? Sink me the ship, Master Gunner — sink

her, split her in twain! Fall into the hands of God, not into the

hands of Spain!”

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With a joyful spirit I, Sir Richard Gren

ville, die!” And he fell upon their decks, and he died.

XIV

We should be seen, my dear: they would spy us out of the town.

5 The loud black nights for us, and the

storm rushing over the down, When I cannot see my own hand, but am

led by the creak of the chain, And grovel and grope for my son till I

find myself drenched with the rain.

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III

And they stared at the dead that had been

so valiant and true, And had holden the power and glory of

Spain so cheap That he dared her with one little ship and

his English few: Was he devil or man? He was devil for

aught they knew, But they sank his body with honor down

into the deep. And they manned the Revenge with a

swarthier alien crew, And away she sailed with her loss, and

longed for her own; When a wind from the lands they had

ruined awoke from sleep, And the water began to heave and the

weather to moan, And or ever that evening ended a great

gale blew, And a wave like the wave that is raised by an earthquake grew,

115 Till it smote on their hulls and their sails

and their masts and their flags, And the whole sea plunged and fell on the

shot-shattered navy of Spain: And the little Revenge herself went down

by the island crags, To be lost evermore in the main.

Anything fallen again? Nay - what was

there left to fall ? I have taken them home, I have numbered

the bones, I have hidden them all. 10 What am I saying? and what are you? do

you come as a spy? Falls ? what falls? who knows? As the

tree falls, so must it lie.

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RIZPAH

Ah — you, that have lived so soft, what

should you know of the night, The blast and the burning shame and the

bitter frost and the fright? I have done it, while you were asleep

you were only made for the day. I have gathered my baby together — and

now you may go your way.

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Wailing, wailing, wailing, the wind over

land and sea And Willy's voice in the wind, “O mother,

come out to me!" Why should he call me tonight, when he

knows that I cannot go? For the downs are as bright as day, and

the full moon stares at the snow.

Nay for it's kind of you, madam, to sit

by an old dying wife. But say nothing hard of my boy, I have

only an hour of life. I kissed my boy in the prison, before he

went out to die.

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idle,

VII

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VIII

“They dared me to do it,” he said, and he never has told me a lie.

Then since I couldn't but hear that cry of I whipped him for robbing an orchard

my boy that was dead, once, when he was but a child :

They seized me and shut me up: they “The farmer dared me to do it," he said.

fastened me down on my bed. He was always so wild,

“Mother, O mother!" — he called in the And idle — and couldn't be

my dark to me, year after year Willy: he never could rest.

They beat me for that, they beat me The King should have made him a soldier:

you know that I couldn't but hear. he would have been one of his best.

And then at the last they found I had

grown so stupid and still

They let me abroad again — but the creaBut he lived with a lot of wild mates, and tures had worked their will.

they never would let him be good; They swore that he dare not rob the mail, and he swore that he would.

Flesh of my flesh was gone, but bone of my And he took no life; but he took one purse, bone was left and when all was done

I stole them all from the lawyers

and He flung it among his fellows

“I'll none

you, will you call it a theft? of it,” said my son.

My baby, the bones that had sucked me,

the bones that had laughed and had

cried I came into court to the judge and the Theirs ? O, no! they are mine not lawyers: I told them my tale,

theirs — they had moved in my side. God's own truth — but they killed him,

they killed him for robbing the mail. They hanged him in chains for a show

Do you think I was scared by the bones? we had always borne a good name: 35 I kissed 'em, I buried 'em all To be hanged for a thief — and then put I can't dig deep, I am old — in the night, away isn't that enough shame?

by the churchyard wall. Dust to dust - low down let us hide!

My Willy 'ill rise up whole when the But they set him so high

trumpet of judgment 'ill sound: That all the ships of the world could stare But I charge you never to say that I laid at him, passing by.

him in holy ground. God 'ill pardon the hell-black raven and

horrible fowls of the air, But not the black heart of the lawyer who They would scratch him up: they would killed him, and hanged him there.

hang him again on the cursed tree. Sin? O, yes, we are sinners, I know — let

all that be, And the jailer forced me away. I had bid And read me a Bible verse of the Lord's him my last good-bye;

good-will toward men They had fastened the door of his cell. “Full of compassion and mercy, the Lord” "O mother!" I heard him cry.

let me hear again: I couldn't get back though I tried: he had "Full of compassion and mercy — longsomething further to say,

suffering.” Yes, O yes! And now I never shall know it. The For the lawyer is born but to murder jailer forced me away.

the Saviour lives but to bless.

XII

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XIII

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He'll never put on the black cap except

for the worst of the worst, And the first may be last — I have heard

it in church — and the last may be

first. Suffering - O, long-suffering - yes, as the

Lord must know: Year after year, in the mist and the wind

and the shower and the snow.

"FRATER AVE ATQUE VALE"

(1880)

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Row us out from Desenzano: to your Sir

mione, row! So they rowed, and there we landed "O

venusta Sirmio!" There to me through all the groves of

olive in the summer glow, There beneath the Roman ruin where the

purple flowers grow, Came that “Ave atque Vale" of the Poet's hopeless woe,

5 Tenderest of Roman poets nineteen hun

dred years ago, “Frater Ave atque Vale”; as we wandered

to and fro, Gazing at the Lydian laughter of the

Garda Lake below Sweet Catullus's all-but-island, olive-sil

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very Sirmio!

XVI

TO VIRGIL

(1882)

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Roman Virgil, thou that singest Ilion's

lofty temples robed in fire, Ilion falling, Rome arising, wars, and filial

faith, and Dido's pyre;

go,

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Landscape-lover, lord of language more

than he that sang the “Works and

Days," All the chosen coin of fancy flashing out

from many a golden phrase;

Madam, I beg your pardon! I think that

you mean to be kind; But I cannot hear what you say for my

Willy's voice in the wind The snow and the sky so bright - - he used

but to call in the dark: And he calls to me now from the church

and not from the gibbet - For hark!

Thou that singest wheat and woodland,

tilth and vineyard, hive and horse and herd;

5 All the charm of all the Muses often

flowering in a lonely word;

Poet of the happy Tityrus piping under

neath his beechen bowers; Poet of the poet-satyr whom the laughing

shepherd bound with flowers;

A scroll of verse; till that old man before A cavern, whence an affluent fountain

poured From darkness into daylight, turned and

spoke:

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Thou that seëst Universal Nature moved

by Universal Mind; Thou majestic in thy sadness at the doubt

ful doom of humankind;

This wealth of waters might but seem

to draw From yon dark cave; but, son, the source

is higher, Yon summit half-a-league in air — and

higher The cloud that hides it — higher still the

heavens Whereby the cloud was moulded, and

whereout The cloud descended. Force is from the

heights. I am wearied of our city, son, and go 15 To spend my one last year among the hills. What hast thou there? Some death-song

for the Ghouls To make their banquet relish? Let me

read.

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“How far through all the bloom and brake That nightingale is heard !

20 What power but the bird's could make

This music in the bird?
How summer-bright are yonder skies,

And earth as fair in hue!
And yet what sign of aught that lies 25

Behind the green and blue ? But man today is fancy's fool

As man hath ever been. The nameless Power, or Powers, that rule Were never heard or seen.”

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