In Flanders Fields and Other Poems/The Captain

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For works with similar titles, see The Captain.
The Captain

1797


Here all the day she swings from tide to tide,
    Here all night long she tugs a rusted chain,
A masterless hulk that was a ship of pride,
  Yet unashamed:  her memories remain.


It was Nelson in the Captain, Cape St. Vincent far alee,
   With the Vanguard leading s'uth'ard in the haze—
Little Jervis and the Spaniards and the fight that was to be,
Twenty-seven Spanish battleships, great bullies of the sea,
   And the 'Captain' there to find her day of days.

Right into them the Vanguard leads, but with a sudden tack
   The Spaniards double swiftly on their trail;
Now Jervis overshoots his mark, like some too eager pack,
He will not overtake them, haste he e'er so greatly back,
   But Nelson and the Captain will not fail.

Like a tigress on her quarry leaps the Captain from her place,
   To lie across the fleeing squadron's way:
Heavy odds and heavy onslaught, gun to gun and face to face,
Win the ship a name of glory, win the men a death of grace,
   For a little hold the Spanish fleet in play.

Ended now the Captain's battle, stricken sore she falls aside
   Holding still her foemen, beaten to the knee:

As the Vanguard drifted past her, "Well done, Captain," Jervis cried,
Rang the cheers of men that conquered, ran the blood of men that died,
   And the ship had won her immortality.

Lo! here her progeny of steel and steam,
   A funnelled monster at her mooring swings:
Still, in our hearts, we see her pennant stream,
   And "Well done, Captain," like a trumpet rings.