Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, BALLAD FOR CAPE HENRY DAY, by VIRGINIA LYNE TUNSTALL



Poetry Explorer

Classic and Contemporary Poetry

Rhyming Dictionary Search
BALLAD FOR CAPE HENRY DAY, by            
First Line: From blackwall, hard by london town, on a bleak december
Last Line: Adventurers, -- and comrades, across three hundred years!
Subject(s): Sailing & Sailors; Sea Voyages


From Blackwall, hard by London Town, on a bleak December day,
From Blackwall in the morning, through mists of sodden gray,
From Blackwall in the morning, the brave ships fell away.

The Susan Constant's mariners
Slipped chain with song and laughter
And cheers for the Discovery,
And the Godspeed, coming after.

(In vain did sullen Philip scowl,
And his high grandees complain,
"These mariners would singe the beard
Of the haughty King of Spain!")

Past Margate sailed the sturdy three,
And Broadstairs was in sight;
Past Ramsgate; -- at the shallow Downs
To anchor in the night, --

As wind-driven rain and hale swept in.
"She'll founder in the tide!
In with your topsails, lash the helm!"
Stout Captain Newport cried.

Six days the furious tempest raged,
The wind would not be stayed.
Six days the great seas washed the decks,
And the captain cursed and prayed.

Well might the gentle Robert Hunt
In anguish, hope no more,
And gaze with homesick, longing eyes
At the distant Kentish shore.

And well the doughty Captain Smith
Sighed for the vanished days
When the Lady Tragabigzanda
Sang him amorous Turkish lays, --

For boyhood years in Lincolnshire,
For the crash of wars alarms,
When he won in fight at Regal
Three Turk's heads for his arms.

Though the good ships seemed most foully doomed
To founder with all hands,
Or drive, three derelicts, to sea,
Or wreck on Goodwin sands,

Well known was Newport's seamanship
Wherever sailors roam,
For not in vain, as Raleigh's man,
He brought his Carrack home, --

The great Madre de Dois,
With a fortune in her hold,
Freighted closed to the water line
With silver bars and gold, --

A high and fearless heart beat true
Under his sailor's coat,
And sturdy and undaunted still
He kept his craft afloat

Till the wind died suddenly one night,
And the new day brought the sun,
A flown sheet and a fair wind,
And the voyage well begun,

Oh, well, begun on New Year's Day
To the New World in the west, --
God, and Saint George for England,
And brave men for the rest!

It was April in Virginia
When the mariners touched shore
On such a fair and gracious land
As none had seen before.

For April to Virginia came
As April comes today,
With mocking bird, and cardinal,
With warbler, thrush, and jay,

With jasmine chiming golden bells,
And the laurels all abloom,
And the thrust of the arbutus' scent
Piercing the forest's gloom.

With wild strawberries on the dunes,
And white gulls on the wing,
With earth and sky and sea and sand
Flushed with the tide of spring!

Mariner and adventurer
In silence sank in prayer,
Then built a cross of studry drift
And raised and set it there, --

The cross of a redeeming Christ
Above Cape Henry's sand, --
Well worthy of the Heavenly Sign
They deemed that heavenly land!

Adventurers, adventurers, we know your hopes and fears,
Adventurers, we share your joys and shed your bitter tears,
Adventurers, -- and comrades, across three hundred years!





Other Poems of Interest...



Home: PoetryExplorer.net