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Poem by Henry Newbolt


The Old Superb


The wind was rising easterly, the morning sky was blue,
  The Straits before us opened wide and free;
We looked towards the Admiral, where high the Peter flew,
  And all our hearts were dancing like the sea.
"The French are gone to Martinique with four and twenty sail!
  The Old Superb is old and foul and slow,
But the French are gone to Martinique, and Nelson's on the trail.
  And where he goes the Old Superb must go!"

    So Westward ho! for Trinidad, and Eastward ho! for Spain,
      And "Ship ahoy!" a hundred times a day;
    Round the world if need be, and round the world again,
      With a lame duck lagging all the way.

The Old Superb was barnacled and green as grass below,
  Her sticks were only fit for stirring grog;
The pride of all her midshipmen was silent long ago,
  And long ago they ceased to heave the log.
Four year out from home she was, and ne'er a week in port,
  And nothing save the guns aboard her bright;
But Captain Keats he knew the game, and swore to share the sport,
  For he never yet came in too late to fight.

    So Westward ho! for Trinidad, and Eastward ho! for Spain,
      And "Ship ahoy!" a hundred times a day;
    Round the world if need be, and round the world again,
      With a lame duck lagging all the way.

"Now up, my lads," the Captain cried, "for sure the case were hard
  If longest out were first to fall behind;
Aloft, aloft with studding sails, and lash them on the yard,
  For night and day the Trades are driving blind!"
So all day long and all day long behind the fleet we crept,
  And how we fretted none but Nelson guessed;
But every night the Old Superb she sailed when others slept,
  Till we ran the French to earth with all the rest.

    Oh, 'twas Westward ho! for Trinidad, and Eastward ho! for Spain,
      And "Ship ahoy!" a hundred times a day;
    Round the world if need be, and round the world again,
      With a lame duck lagging all the way.



Henry Newbolt


Henry Newbolt's other poems:
  1. The Quarter-Gunner's Yarn
  2. The Non-Combatant
  3. Northumberland
  4. Waggon Hill
  5. O Pulchritudo


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