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A helmsman clothed with the tempest, and girdled with strength to constrain the sea. And the host of them trembles and quails, caught
fast in his hand as a bird in the toils; For the wrath and the joy that fulfil him are mightier than man's, whom he slays and spoils.
And vainly, with heart divided in sunder, and labour of wavering will,
The lord of their host takes counsel with hope if haply their star shine still,
If haply some light be left them of chance to renew and redeem the fray;
But the will of the black south-wester is lord of the councils of war to-day.
One only spirit it quells not, a splendour undarkened of chance or time;
Be the praise of his foes with Oquendo for ever, a name as a star sublime.
But hear what aid in a hero's heart, what help in his hand may be?
For ever the dark wind whitens and blackens the hollows and heights of the sea,
And galley by galley, divided and desolate, founders; and none takes heed,
Nor foe nor friend, if they perish; forlorn, cast off in their uttermost need,
They sink in the whelm of the waters, as pebbles by children from shoreward hurled,
In the North Sea's waters that end not, nor know they a bourn but the bourn of the world. Past many a secure unavailable harbour, and many a loud stream's mouth,
Past Humber and Tees and Tyne and Tweed, they fly, scourged on from the south,
For the wind, of its godlike mercy, relents not, and hounds them ahead to the north,
With English hunters at heel, till now is the herd of them past the Forth,
All huddled and hurtled seaward; and now need none wage war upon these,
Nor huntsmen follow the quarry whose fall is the pastime sought of the seas.
A. C. SWINBURNE.
13. scuppers. Holes in the bulwarks to let out water from the deck.
28. Oquendo. A brave young commander in the Spanish fleet. When the ships were drifting into shallow water off Calais, and all was confusion and panic, Sidonia sent for him to advise Señor Oquendo,' he exclaimed, 'what are we to do? We are lost!' Oquendo gave a brave man's answer: 'Let Diego Florez talk of being lost; let your Excellency bid me order up the cartridges.'
Francis Drake was first among the English to wrest from Spain the monopoly of the New World. In 1572 he sacked Nombre de Dios, on the isthmus of Panama, which he called 'the mouth of the Treasury of the World'. In 1577 he sailed on his voyage round the world in The Pelican, swooped down upon Chili and Peru, and took a great galleon with spoil of over half a million pounds in value. When in 1587 the Armada was nearly ready, Drake delayed it for a year by 'singeing the King of Spain's beard' - running into Cadiz and burning the store-ships there. In 1588 he was second in command of the fleet against the Armada.
[For a modern account of Drake see that by Mr. Julian Corbet (English Men of Action' Series.) A contemporary account of his voyage may be read in Hakluyt.]
DRAKE he's in his hammock an' a thousand mile
(Capten, art tha sleepin' there below?)
Slung atween the round shot in Nombre Dios Bay,
An' the shore-lights flashin', an' the night-tide dashin',
Drake he was a Devon man, an' ruled the Devon seas,
Drake he's in his hammock till the great Armadas come,
(Capten, art tha sleepin' there below?)
Slung atween the round shot, listenin' for the drum,
13. my drum. Drake's drum is still preserved at Buckland Abbey.
TO THE VIRGINIAN VOYAGE
This poem was written about 1607, when the first permanent colony was founded at Jamestown.
You brave heroic minds
Worthy your country's name,
Go and subdue!
Whilst loitering hinds
Lurk here at home with shame.
Britons, you stay too long:
As the winds that blow you
Your course securely steer,
West and by south forth keep!
You need not fear;
So absolute the deep.
And cheerfully at sea
To get the pearl and gold,
The cypress, pine,
And useful sassafras.
To whom the Golden Age
Still nature's laws doth give,
But them to defend
From winter's rage,
That long there doth not live.
When as the luscious smell
Of that delicious land
Above the seas that flows
In kenning of the shore
Let cannons roar,
Frighting the wide heaven.
And in regions far,
Such heroes bring ye forth
As those from whom we came;
And plant our name
Under that star
Not known unto our North.
And as there plenty grows
A poet's brows
To crown, that may sing there.
The Voyages attend,
Whose reading shall inflame
And much commend
To after times thy wit.
16. Eolus. The god of the winds.
36. sassafras. A medicinal plant of the laurel species, found
in North America.
59. that star. As one goes south, new stars become visible,