The year's at the spring/Brady, E. J

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A Ballad of the Captains

WHERE are now the Captains
Of the narrow ships of old
Who with valiant souls went seeking
For the Fabled Fleece of Gold;
In the clouded Dusk of Ages,
In the Dawn of History,
When the ringing songs of Homer
First re-echoed o'er the Sea?

Oh, the Captains lie a-sleeping
Where great iron hulls are sweeping
Out of Suez in their pride;
And they hear not, and they heed not,
And they know not, and they need not
In their deep graves far and wide.

Where are now the Captains
Who went blindly through the Strait,
With a tribute to Poseidon,
A libation poured to Fate?
They were heroes giant-hearted,
That with Terrors, told and sung,
Like blindfolded lions grappled,
When the World was strange and young.

Oh, the Captains brave and daring,
With their grim old crews are faring
Where our guiding beacons gleam;
And the homeward liners o'er them—
All the charted seas before them—
Shall not wake them as they dream.

Where are now the Captains
From bold Nelson back to Drake,
Who came drumming up the Channel,
Haling prizes in their wake?
Where are England's fighting Captains
Who, with battle-flags unfurled,
Went a-rieving all the rievers
O'er the waves of all the world?

Oh, these Captains, all confiding
In the strong right hand, are biding
In the margins, on the Main;
They are shining bright in story,
They are sleeping deep in glory,
On the silken lap of Fame.



Where are now the Captains
Who regarded not the tears
Of the captured Christian maidens
Carried, weeping, to Algiers?
Yes, the swarthy Moorish Captains,
Storming wildly 'cross the Bay,
With a dead hidalgo's daughter
As a dower for the Dey?

Oh, those cruel Captains never
Shall sweet lovers more dissever,
On their forays as they roll;
Or the mad Dons curse them vainly,
As their baffled ships, ungainly,
Heel them, jeering, to the Mole.

Where are now the Captains
Of those racing, roaring days,
Who of knowledge and of courage,
Drove the clippers on their ways—
To the furthest ounce of pressure,
To the latest stitch of sail,
'Carried on' before the tempest
Till the waters lapped the rail?

Oh, the merry, manly skippers
Of the traders and the clippers,
They are sleeping East and West,
And the brave blue seas shall hold them,
And the oceans five enfold them
In the havens where they rest.

Where are now the Captains
Of the gallant days agone?
They are biding in their places,
And the Great Deep bears no traces
Of their good ships passed and gone.
They are biding in their places,
Where the light of God's own grace is,
And the Great Deep thunders on.

Yea, with never port to steer for,
And with never storm to fear for,
They are waiting wan and white,
And they hear no more the calling
Of the watches, or the falling
Of the sea rain in the night.