Classic and Contemporary Poetry
WATCHMEN OF THE NIGHT, by CECIL EDRIC MORNINGTON ROBERTS Poet's Biography
First Line: Lords of the seas' great wilderness
Last Line: For sons who guard thee night and day!
Subject(s): Great Britain - Navy; World War I; First World War
LORDS of the seas' great wilderness
The light-grey warships cut the wind;
The headland dwindles less and less;
The great waves, breaking, drench and blind
The stern-faced watcher on the deck,
While England fades into a speck.
Afar on that horizon grey
The sleepy homesteads one by one
Shine with their cheerful lights as day
Dies in the valley and is gone,
While the new moon comes o'er the hill
And floods the landscape, white and still.
But outward 'mid the homeless waste
The battle-fleet held on its way;
On either side the torn seas raced,
Over the bridge blew up the spray;
The quartermaster at the wheel
Steered through the night his ship of steel.
Once, from a masthead, blinked a light
The Admiral spoke unto the Fleet;
Swift answers flashed along the night,
The charthouse glimmered through the sleet;
A bell rang from the engine-room,
And, ere it ceasedthe great guns' boom!
Then thunder through the silence broke
And rolled along the sullen deep;
A hundred guns flashed fire and spoke,
Which England heard not in her sleep
Nor dreamed of, while her fighting sons
Fed and fired the blazing guns.
Dawn broke in England, sweet and clear;
Birds in the brake, the lark in heaven
Made musical the morning air;
But distant, shattered, scorched and riven,
Gathered the shipsaye, dawn was well
After the night's dark, raging hell.
But some came not with break of light,
Nor looked upon the saffron dawn;
They keep the watch of endless Night,
On the soft breast of ocean borne.
O waking England, rise and pray
For sons who guard thee night and day!
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