Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, SONG, WRITTEN AT SEA, IN THE FIRST DUTCH WAR, 1665 ..., by CHARLES SACKVILLE (1637-1706)



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SONG, WRITTEN AT SEA, IN THE FIRST DUTCH WAR, 1665 ..., by             Poet's Biography
First Line: To all you [or, you fair] ladies now at land
Last Line: With a fa, la, la, la, la!
Alternate Author Name(s): Dorset, 6th Earl Of; Middlesex, 1st Earl Of
Variant Title(s): A Ballad When At Sea
Subject(s): Love; War


To you, fair ladies, now at land,
We men at sea indite:
But, first, would have you understand
How hard it is to write.
The Muses now, and Neptune too,
We must implore, to write to you,
With a fa, la, la, la, la!

But though the Muses should be kind,
And fill our empty brain:
Yet if rough Neptune cause the wind
To rouse the azure main,
Our paper, pens, and ink, and we
Roll up and down our ships at sea,
With a fa, la, la, la, la!

Then if we write not by each post,
Think not that we're unkind!
Nor yet conclude that we are lost
By Dutch, by French, or wind.
Our griefs will find a speedier way;
The tide shall bring them twice a day,
With a fa, la, la, la, la!

The King, with wonder and surprise,
Will think the sea's grown bold,
For that the tide does higher rise
Than e'er it did of old.
But let him know that 'tis our tears
Send floods of grief to Whitehall Stairs,
With a fa, la, la, la, la!

Should Count Toulouse but come to know
Our sad and dismal story,
The French would scorn so weak a foe,
Where they can get no glory,
For what resistance can they find
From men, who've left their hearts behind,
With a fa, la, la, la, la!

To pass our tedious time away
We throw the merry Main,
Or else at serious Ombre play.
But why should we in vain
Each other's ruin thus pursue?
We were undone when we left you,
With a fa, la, la, la, la!

When any mournful tune you hear,
That dies in every note,
As if it sighed for each man's care,
For being so remote,
Then think how often love we've made
To you, while all those tunes were played
With a fa, la, la, la, la!

Let wind and weather do their worst
Be you to us but kind,
Let Frenchmen vapour, Dutchmen curse,
No sorrows we shall find.
'Tis then no matter how things go,
Nor who's our friend, nor who's our foe,
With a fa, la, la, la, la!

Thus, having told you all our loves,
And likewise all our fears,
In hopes this declaration moves
Some pity to our tears,
Let's hear of no inconstancy;
We have too much of that at sea,
With a fa, la, la, la, la!





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