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THE “REVENGE”

A BALLAD OF THE FLEET, 1591

ALFRED, LORD TENNYSON

At Flores in the Azores, Sir Richard Grenville lay, And a pinnace, like a fluttered bird, came flying from

far away:

5.Spanish ships-of-war at sea! we have sighted fifty

three!' Then sware Lord Thomas Howard : “ 'Fore God I am no

coward; But I cannot meet them here, for my ships are out of gear, And the half my men are sick. I must fly, but follow

quick. We are six ships of the line; can we fight with fifty

three?"

Then spake Sir Richard Grenville: “I know you are no

coward; You fly them for a moment to fight with them again. But I've ninety men and more that are lying sick ashore. I should count myself the coward if I left them, my Lord

Howard, To these Inquisition dogs and the devildoms of Spain. So Lord Howard passed away with five ships of war that day,

Till he melted like a cloud in the silent summer heaven; But Sir Richard bore in hand all his sick men from the

land Very carefully and slow, Men of Bideford in Devon, And we laid them on the ballast down below; For we brought them all aboard, And they blest him in their pain, that they were not left

to Spain, To the thumbscrew and the stake, for the glory of the

Lord.

He had only a hundred seamen to work the ship and to

fight, And he sailed away from Flores till the Spaniard came

in sight, With his huge sea-castles heaving upon the weather bow. “Shall we fight or shall we fly? Good Sir Richard, tell us now, For to fight is but to die! There'll be little of us left by the time this sun be set." And Sir Richard said again: “We be all good English

men.

Let us bang these dogs of Seville, the children of the

devil,

For I never turned my back upon Don or devil yet.” Sir Richard spoke and he laughed, and we roared a

hurrah, and so

The little Revenge ran on sheer into the heart of the foe, With her hundred fighters on deck, and her ninety sick

below; For half of their fleet to the right and half to the left

were seen, And the little Revenge ran on through the long sea-lane

between.

Thousands of their soldiers looked down from their decks

and laughed, Thousands of their seamen made mock at the mad little

craft Running on and on, till delayed By their mountain-like San Philip that, of fifteen hun

dred tons, And up-shadowing high above us with her yawning tiers

of guns,

Took the breath from our sails, and we stayed.

And while now the great San Philip hung above us like

a cloud, Whence the thunderbolt will fall Long and loud, Four galleons drew away From the Spanish fleet that day, And two upon the larboard and two upon the starboard

lay, And the battle-thunder broke from them all. But anon the great San Philip, she bethought herself Having that within her womb that had left her ill-content; And the rest they came aboard us, and they fought us

and went,

[graphic]

hand to hand, For a dozen times they came with their pikes and

musqueteers, And a dozen times we shook 'em off as a dog that shakes And the sun went down, and the stars came out far over

his ears,

When he leaps from the water to the land.

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 flame; Ship after ship, the whole night long, drew back with her

dead and her shame, For some were sunk and many were shattered, and so

could fight us no moreGod of battles was ever a battle like this in the world

before?

For he said “Fight on! fight on!”
Tho' his vessel was all but a wreck;
And it chanced that, when half of the summer night

was gone, With a grisly wound to be drest, he had left the deck, But a bullet struck him that was dressing it suddenly

dead, And himself, he was wounded again in the side and in

the head, And he said, “Fight on! fight on!”

And the night went down, and the sun smiled out far over the summer sea,

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