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Poem by Henry Newbolt


Hawke


IN SEVENTEEN hundred and fifty-nine,
    When Hawke came swooping from the West, 
The French King's Admiral with twenty of the line
    Was sailing forth to sack us, out of Brest. 
The ports of France were crowded, the quays of France a-hum
With thirty thousand soldiers marching to the drum,
For bragging time was over and fighting time was come
    When Hawke came swooping from the West.

'Twas long past noon of a wild November day
    When Hawke came swooping from the West; 
He heard the breakers thundering in Quiberon Bay,
    But he flew the flag for battle, line abreast. 
Down upon the quicksands roaring out of sight
Fiercely beat the storm-wind, darkly fell the night,
But they took the foe for pilot and the cannon's glare for light
    When Hawke came swooping from the West.

The Frenchmen turned like a covey down the wind
    When Hawke came swooping from the West; 
One he sank with all hands, one he caught and pinned,
    And the shallows and the storm took the rest. 
The guns that should have conquered us they rusted on the shore,
The men that would have mastered us they drummed and marched no more,
For England was England, and a mighty brood she bore
    When Hawke came swooping from the West.



                      Henry Newbolt


Henry Newbolt's other poems:
  1. Clifton Chapel
  2. The Dictionary of National Biography
  3. Admirals All
  4. He Fell among Thieves
  5. Drake's Drum


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