Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE RETURN OF THE ADMIRAL, by BRYAN WALLER PROCTER

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THE RETURN OF THE ADMIRAL, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: How gallantly, how merrily
Last Line: That had follow'd in our lee!
Alternate Author Name(s): Cornwall, Barry; Proctor, Bryan Waller
Subject(s): Admirals

How gallantly, how merrily,
We ride along the sea!
The morning is all sunshine,
The wind is blowing free:
The billows are all sparkling,
And bounding in the light,
Like creatures in whose sunny veins
The blood is running bright.
All nature knows our triumph:
Strange birds about us sweep;
Strange things come up to look at us,
The masters of the deep:
In our wake, like any servant,
Follows even the bold shark --
Oh, proud must be our admiral
Of such a bonny bark!

Proud, proud, must be our admiral,
(Though he is pale to-day,)
Of twice five hundred iron men,
Who all his nod obey;
Who've fought for him, and conquer'd --
Who've won, with sweat and gore,
Nobility! which he shall have
Whene'er he touch the shore.
Oh! would I were our admiral,
To order, with a word --
To lose a dozen drops of blood,
And straight rise up a lord!
I'd shout e'en to yon shark, there,
Who follows in our lee,
"Some day I'll make thee carry me,
Like lightning through the sea."

-- The admiral grew paler,
And paler as we flew:
Still talk'd he to his officers,
And smiled upon his crew;
And he look'd up at the heavens,
And he look'd down on the sea,
And at last he spied the creature,
That kept following in our lee.
He shook -- 't was but an instant --
For speedily the pride
Ran crimson to his heart,
Till all chances he defied:
It threw boldness on his forehead;
Gave firmness to his breath;
And he stood like some grim warrior
New risen up from death.

That night, a horrid whisper
Fell on us where we lay;
And we knew our old fine admiral
Was changing into clay;
And we heard the wash of waters,
Though nothing could we see,
And a whistle and a plunge
Among the billows in our lee!
Till dawn we watch'd the body
In its dead and ghastly sleep,
And next evening at sunset,
It was slung into the deep!
And never, from that moment --
Save one shudder through the sea,
Saw we (or heard) the shark
That had follow'd in our lee!

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