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And the Spanish fleet with broken sides lay round us all
in a ring; But they dared not touch us again, for they feared that
we still could sting, So they watched what the end would be. And we had not fought them in vain, But in perilous plight were we, Seeing forty of our poor hundred were slain, And half of the rest of us maim'd 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!"!
And the gunner said, “Ay, ay,” but the seamen made
reply: “We have children, we have wives,
And the Lord hath spared our lives.
We shall live to fight again and to strike another blow.' And the lion there lay dying, and they yielded to the foe.
And the stately Spanish men to their flagship bore him
then, Where they laid him by the mast, old Sir Richard caught
at last, And they praised him to his face with their courtly
foreign grace; But he rose upon their decks, and he cried: “I have fought for Queen and Faith like a valiant man
and true; I have only done my duty as a man is bound to do: With a joyful spirit I, Sir Richard Grenville, die!" And he fell upon their decks, and he died.
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
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
And away she sail'd with her loss and long'd for her own; When a wind from the lands they had ruin'd 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, 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-shatter'd
navy of Spain, And the little Revenge herself went down by the island
crags To be lost evermore in the main.
Notes Flores: one of the islands belonging to the Azores. Azores (ā-zörs'): group of small islands in the North Atlantic
Sir Richard Grenville: an English admiral.
Lord Thomas Howard: Lord Admiral in command of the English fleet at the time of the war between England and Spain in the days of the Spanish Armada.
Inquisition dogs: the officers of the Spanish Inquisition were noted for the cruelty of their tortures of heretics.
Bideford: English town in Devonshire.
Questions for Study 1. Notice how in the very beginning the verse has a fine, martial swing, almost demanding to be read aloud. Practice until you can give to others the spirit of the poem as you read it. 2. Tell why you think Sir Richard Grenville's decision brave or merely impulsive and rash. What of Lord Howard's?
3. Whom does Tennyson make narrate the story? Can you see everything from his point of view?
4. What is it that makes these men fight so marvelously? What qualities make them in your eyes heroes ? Which was the greater hero, Sir Richard in stanza XI or the gunner in XII ? Have you found these same qualities glorified in other selections in this book?
5. What do you think of the Spaniards' actions after the “Revenge” was disabled ?
6. If the little ship sank at last, was the fight by her commander and crew worth while ?
On the sea and at the Hogue, sixteen hundred ninety-two,
pursue, Came crowding ship on ship to St. Malo on the Rance, With the English fleet in view.
'Twas the squadron that escaped, with the victor in full
chase; First and foremost of the drove, in his great ship,
And they signalled to the place,
“Help the winners of a race! Get us guidance, give us harbor, take us quick-or
quicker still, Here's the English can and will!”
Then the pilots of the place put out brisk and leapt on
board; “Why, what hope or chance have ships like these to
pass?” laughed they: “Rocks to starboard, rocks to port, all the passage
scarred and scored. Shall the Formidable here, with her twelve and eighty
guns Think to make the river-mouth by the single narrow
way, Trust to enter where 'tis ticklish for a craft of twenty tons,
And with flow at full beside?
Reach the mooring? Rather say,
Then was called a council straight. Brief and bitter the debate: “Here's the English at our heels; would you have them
take in tow All that's left us of the fleet, linked together stern and