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Poem by Christian Milne
The Captive Sailor
JACK HARDY long for lovely NANCY Had sigh'd sincere, on sea and shore; She danc'd, she sung, she drest with fancy; And seamen seldom look for more. Her face shew'd youth and beauty's blossom, Her form was graceful, slender, tall; Fair truth dwelt in her lovely bosom, The best, the choicest grace of all. JACK was a youth of worth and merit, Ne'er Britain rear'd a braver tar; He lov'd, with truth and loyal spirit, His King and NAN , in peace and war. When last for sea brave JACK departed, He sought his NANCY at her home; "Dear girl," said he, "don't be down hearted, "Tho' I a while from you must roam. "When I'm at sea, and landsmen near you, "O! yield not to their flattering art; "No distant beauty e'er shall tear you "From your own sailor's faithful heart. "If Fortune crown with wealth my labour-- "If Heav'n propitious be my guide; "At my return, with pipe and tabor, "With joy I'll make sweet NAN my bride. "When peace shall come, and Britain's navy "Unrigg'd, shall rest from hostile harms-- "If I'm preserv'd from France, and DAVY , "I'll happy rush to NANCY 's arms." NAN sobb'd aloud, her head reclining Upon her sailor's manly breast, Her snowy arms around him twining, Unfeign'd, her love and grief confess'd. "Dear JACK ," she sigh'd, "since you must leave me, "For love exchanging ocean's roar, "If you should fall, or e'er deceive me, "Poor constant NAN will smile no more. "From France's dungeons Heav'n preserve you; "No stranger's love to mine prefer, "For none but NANCY can deserve you, "As none can ever love like her." The Boatswain pip'd, and they must sever, 'Twas hard such hearts apart to tear! Ah! little thought they 'twas for ever-- Hope from their mind drove Doubt and Fear. He join'd the crew on board the Nero, A goodly first rate ship of war; NAN pray'd, with tears, that Heav'n her hero Would safe restore without a scar. 'Twas their immediate destination To face the foe--they fearless went, Each seaman bravely fill'd his station-- They fought till every shot was spent. O'erpower'd by numbers, they must yield her, Rude bands of Frenchmen rush'd on board, Now British courage could not shield her-- "Seize the captives" was the word. They quick ashore to jail were hurry'd, No pity shew'd the cruel foe; By HIS command in darkness bury'd, Whose soul delights in human woe. Hands bound in steel, on straw to languish, Coarse bread and water were their fare; Thoughts of his NAN fill'd JACK with anguish-- Thus to be parted rous'd despair. Sigh heav'd on sigh, sharp tears descending Down his graceful manly cheek; His prayers the while to Heav'n up sending, For balm to NANCY 's bosom meek. "Ah! dearest NAN ," he oft would mutter, While on the straw fell many a tear, "Methinks I hear the cries you utter, "When this sad news shall reach your ear!" Fame bore to NAN a mournful story Of wounds, whence fled her sailor's breath-- That while he fought for Britain's glory, His brave career was stopt by death. Her form decay'd, fair, soft, and tender-- Pale grew her cheek--deep sunk her eye; Life's load with joy she did surrender, To meet her JACK she wish'd to die. A captive crew to JACK 's dark prison One night with sorrow did descend; His dear old shipmate, good TOM MIZEN , There recogniz'd his alter'd friend. "And is it here, dear JACK , I greet you!" TOM said, and threw him by his side; "Since now in like distress I meet you, "Death only shall our fate divide." "Was NANCY well when last you left her?' JACK ask'd; TOM sigh'd, and dropt a tear-- "She heard you died, and quickly after "The grave receiv'd your NANCY dear." JACK heav'd a groan--o'er him (long wasted By cold and want, by love and grief), The chill damp dews of death soon hasted, The slave's and captive's sure relief. "I come! dear NAN !--since Death's cold finger "Has clos'd your eyes," JACK faintly said-- "Why should I here behind you linger?" Then sunk upon his wretched bed.
Christian Milne's other poems:
English Poetry. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org