Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, BLOOD IS THICKER THAN WATER, by WALLACE RICE



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BLOOD IS THICKER THAN WATER, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Ebbed and flowed the muddy pei-ho by the gulf of pechili
Last Line: Blood is thicker, sir, than water, now as then.
Alternate Author Name(s): Groot, Cecil De
Subject(s): Americans; China; Navy - United States; Patriotism; Tattnall, Josiah (1795-1871); American Navy


EBBED and flowed the muddy Pei-Ho by the gulf of Pechili,
Near its waters swung the yellow dragon-flag;
Past the batteries of China, looking westward we could see
Lazy junks along the lazy river lag;
Villagers in near-by Ta-Kou toiled beneath their humble star,
On the flats the ugly mud fort lay and dreamed;
While the Powhatan swung slowly at her station by the bar,
While the Toey-Wan with Tattnall onward steamed.

Lazy East and lazy river, fort of mud in lazy June,
English gunboats through the waters slowly fare,
With the dragon-flag scarce moving in the lazy afternoon
O'er the mud-heap storing venom in the glare.
We were on our way to Peking, to the Son of Heaven's throne,
White with peace was all our mission to his court,
Peaceful, too, the English vessels on the turbid stream bestrown
Seeking passage up the Pei-Ho past the fort.

By the bar lay half the English, while the rest, with gallant Hope,
Wrestled with the slipping ebb-tide up the stream;
They had cleared the Chinese irons, reached the double chain and rope,
Where the ugly mud fort scowled upon their beam --
Boom! the heavens split asunder with the thunder of the fight
As the hateful dragon made its faith a mock;
Every cannon spat its perfidy, each casemate blazed its spite,
Crashing down upon the English, shock on shock.

In his courage Rason perished, brave Mc-Kenna fought and fell;
Scores were dying as they'd lived, like valiant men;
And the meteor flag that upward prayed to Heaven from that hell,
Wept below for those who ne'er should weep again.
Far away the English launches near the Powhatan swung slow,
All despairing, useless, out of reach of war,
Knew their comrades in the battle, felt them reel beneath the blow,
Lying helpless' gainst the ebb-tide by the bar.

On the Toey-Wan stood Tattnall, Stephen Trenchard by his side --
"Old Man" Tattnall, he who dared at Vera Cruz, --
Saw here, crippled by the cannon; saw there, throttled by the tide,
Men of English blood and speech -- could he refuse?
I'll be damned, says he to Trenchard, if old Tattnall's standing by,
Seeing white men butchered here by such a foe.
Where's my barge? No side-arms, mind you!
See those English fight and die --
Blood is thicker, sir, than water. Let us go.

Quick we man the boat, and quicker plunge into that devil's brew --
"An official call," and Tattnall went in state.
Treuohard's hurt, our flag in ribbons, and the rocking
barge shot through,
Hart, our coxswain, dies beneath the Chinese hate;
But the cheers those English give us as we gain their Admiral's ship
Make the shattered boat and weary arms seem light --
Then the rare smile from "Old" Tattnall, and Hope's hearty
word and grip,
Lying wounded, bleeding, brave in hell's despite.

Tattnall nods, and we go forward, find a gun no longer fought --
What is peace to us when all its crew lie dead?
One bright English lad brings powder and a wounded man the shot,
And we scotch that Chinese dragon, tail and head.
Hands are shaken, faith is plighted, sounds our Captain's cheery call,
In a British boat we speed us fast and far;
And the Toey-Wan and Tattnall down the ebb-tide slide and fall
To the launches lying moaning by the bar.

Eager for an English vengeance, battle-light on every face,
See the Clustered Stars lead on the Triple Cross!
Cheering, swinging into action, valiant Hope takes heart of grace
From the cannon's cloudy roar, the lanyards' toss
How they fought, those fighting English!
How they cheered the Toey-Wan,
Cheered our sailors, cheered "Old" Tattnall, grim and gray!
And their cheers ring down the ages as they rang beneath the sun
O'er those bubbling, troubled waters far away.

Ebbs and flows the muddy Pei-Ho by the gulf of Pechili,
Idly floats beside the stream the dragon-flag;
Past the batteries of China, looking westward still you see
Lazy junks along the lazy river lag.
Let the long, long years drip slowly on that lost and ancient land,
Ever dear one scene to hearts of gallant men;
There's a hand-clasp and a heart-throb, there's a word we understand:
Blood is thicker, sir, than water, now as then.





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