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Poem by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Ode to the British Fleet

‘Invisible and silent’—Mystery
Surrounded that great Guardian of the Sea.
That Father—Mother—of the mighty main.
While loud in valley and on field and hill—
And over anguished plain
The battles thundered.  God himself is still
And hidden from men’s view; and it were meet
That this subliminal force
Should move in utter silence on its course
Invisible—Inaudible—till that hour
When Time, Fate’s Minister, should speak and say—
‘Come forth! and show thy power!’
When Time commands, even the gods obey.

‘Invisible and silent’; yet the foe
Was driven from the Sea.  All impotent
The brazen braggart went.
While commerce sent her brave ships to and fro;
And from Columbia’s shores there sailed away
Ten thousand men a day—
Ten thousand men a day! who reached their goals
Bringing new courage to war-weary souls.

Oh, silent wonder of the noisy sea!
Though alien, with the blood of Bunker Hill
Down filtering through my veins, the heart of me
Seems with a mingled love and awe to fill
And overflow at thought of that sublime,
Unparalleled large hour of Time;
When bloodless Victory saw the foes’ flag furled—
That insolent menace to a righteous world.

Great Britain’s Fleet unshaken in its might,
Proclaimed itself again in all men’s sight
The Mistress of the Main.  Fair Freedom’s friend,
May peace and glory on thy path attend.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Ella Wheeler Wilcox's other poems:
  1. The Birth of the Opal
  2. The Awakening (I love the tropics, where sun and rain)
  3. The Chain
  4. At Forty-Eight
  5. Artist and Man

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