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But the greatest man among them

Was the sea-king Francis Drake,
The bravest, wisest mariner
That English soil or blood could rear,
Who never stayed for force or fear

When honour was at stake.
In battle or adventurous quest,
His mighty will and dauntless breast

Bore his great steadfast purpose through ;
Enough for him, there duty lay,
Though want or danger barred the way,
No toil nor suffering that could stay,

His bold intrepid spirit knew.
I was Drake's friend, and to his ship,

Swift through the gathering gloom we rowed ; Ere midnight came, the waning moon

Rising above the waters, showed
Our little fleet of seventy sail
Hanging undaunted in their rear,

Vigilant as the Northern wolves,
And steered by men as void of fear,
As is the great white Arctic bear,
Which seamen meet off Cape Farewell
Drifting on iceberg citadel,
Whose height with hardy foot to scale,
Would make the boldest spirit quail,
For dread of that fierce foe, whose hate
Whetted with famine, lies in wait.
We longed for glimpse of morning

And wind which sunrise brings,
To bear us, as with speed and strength

Of a great eagle's wings ;
Till all that vast host's rear-guard

Our guns should teach full well
The falseness of the pride which named

Their fleet “invincible.”

Dawn came at last, and sunrise

Showed where the great ships lay On the bright waves awaiting

The breeze which comes with day. But still for hours it came not,

And we longed for it in vain,
To sweep us into conflict

With the mightiest of Spain.
Morn passed, and noon shone on us,

Our longing fiercer grew ;
When, lo ! the swift breeze came at last
Swelled out the great sails from the mast,

And curled the ocean blue.
Then down in stately grandeur

Sailed the great fleet of foes,
To gain from us the weather-gage

And on our quarter close;
But the best wind which morn could bring
Whitening the sea with powerful wing,
Never brought grace of swiftness

To wait on Spanish keel ;
We laughed as o'er the freshening tide

We saw the great hulks reel
In vain attempt to close with us,

And our advantage win.
Then with a ringing cheer
We swept along their line,
And as we passed, our shot flew fast
Through rending hull and falling mast,
And the great shout of battle rose,
Of rage

and hatred from our foes,
But ours of fierce and strong delight,
Such as men only feel, who fight
For the best things which God has given,
Freedom and truth, and home and heaven.
The galleons towered like castles

Above the heaving sea ;
And yielding to the strong wind's force,

Heeled over to their lee;
And as the wind and sea rose higher,
So the oak splinters at our fire

Flew forth right merrily ;
While o'er our heads the Spanish shot

Sung harmlessly and far,
But cutting here and there a rope,

And here and there a spar.
When we had swept their whole rear line,

We wore round on our track,
And ere the Dons from their surprise
Had cleared their hopes and thoughts and eyes,

Our ships were speeding back Steered steadfastly and gallantly,

With storm of shot and shell
Doing its warlike work full fast,

And doing it right well.
But now to stay our eager course,

And such fierce havoc end,
The huge high-sterned San Matthew

Swung round into the wind :
But ere the vast unwieldy craft

Could bring her guns to bear, Howard was on her quarter,

And the strong English cheer Followed by England's thunder,

Rang through the welkin clear;
Full through her crashing timbers

Each vessel's broadside went,
Till her black sides were spotted o'er

With many a rift and rent,
And her dismantled rigging

Heaped the incumbered deck,
Till the proud ship that towered so high,

To crush us as we passed her by

Lay helpless as a wreck.
But bravely round her gathered

A circle of our foes,
Who desperately but vainly tried

To grapple and to close
With our swift ships, that poured their fire,
And swept unhurt beneath the ire
Which strove with effort blind, to cope
With the high courage, skill, and hope
Of men, who born beneath the mast,
Had stemmed the billow and the blast,
Claimed as their heritage the foam,
And made the ocean surge their home.
Thus the great battle's tempest

Went sounding up to Heaven.
Till proud Recalde's squadron,

By skill and valour driven,
Gathered into a crescent,

And onward sailed again,
Sheltering from harm as it best might,
The ships disabled in the fight,
And that great boast for ever lost

They brought with them from Spain.
Now eve drew on, and as the sun
Sloped to the wave his glowing wheel
The brisk wind freshened to a gale,

Bringing the rolling billows

Up from the open sea,
In whose deep troughs the Spanish ships

Struggled most helplessly.
For gathering close together,

Lest the quick foe behind
Should cut off any loiterer,

They drove before the wind;
But their seamanship was wondrous bad,
And their vessels' bluff blunt forms,
Upbuilt with decks tier over tier,
Crowded with men and fighting gear,
Were slow of sail and hard to steer

In our fierce Northern storms.
All through the hours of darkness

Rose signals of distress,
And o'er the wild wind and the sea
We heard loud cries of agony,

As in that helpless press
The huge ships fouled each other,

Driven both by wave and blast,
And in the dim night strewed the decks

With sail and shroud and mast.
Who would have deemed it otherwise,

For how should Spaniards gain
The courage, skill, and seamanship

Which can o'ercome the main, And bear a vessel through the deep, When waves roll high and tempests sweep, As safely as the sea-gull's form Pierces the darkness of the storm ? At night, through gloom and storm and wreck,

Fierce battle in the day,
The mighty fleet invincible,

In dread and sore dismay,
To greet the Prince of Parma's host,

Sailed slowly on its way.
And the white cliffs of England

Were dark with forms of men,
Who as the battle raged beneath,
With throbbing hearts and bated breath,
Peered through the dun smoke's sluggish wreath
With
eager,

anxious ken, To learn how fared the mariners

Who on their prowess strong

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