Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. II. Ben Jonson to Dryden
Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. II. The Seventeenth Century: Ben Jonson to Dryden
Song Written at Sea
By Charles Sackville, Earl of Dorset (1638–1706)
TO all you 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,        5
We must implore to write to you.
For though the Muses should prove kind,
    And fill our empty brain,
Yet if rough Neptune rouse the wind
    To wave the azure main,        10
Our paper, pen, and ink, and we,
Roll up and down our ships at sea.
Then if we write not by each post,
    Think not we are unkind,
Nor yet conclude our ships are lost        15
    By Dutchmen, or by wind;
Our tears we ’ll send a speedier way,
The tide shall waft them twice a day.
The King with wonder and surprise
    Will swear the seas grow bold,        20
Because the tides will higher rise,
    Than e’er they did of old;
But let him know it is our tears
Bring floods of grief to Whitehall-stairs.
Should foggy Opdam chance to know        25
    Our sad and dismal story,
The Dutch would scorn so weak a foe,
    And quit their fort at Goree,
For what resistance can they find
From men who ’ve left their hearts behind?        30
Let wind and weather do its worst,
    Be you to us but kind,
Let Dutchmen vapour, Spaniards curse,
    No sorrow we shall find;
’Tis then no matter how things go,        35
Or who ’s our friend, or who ’s our foe.
To pass our tedious hours away,
    We throw a merry main,
Or else at serious ombre play,
    But why should we in vain        40
Each other’s ruin thus pursue?
We were undone when we left you!
But now our fears tempestuous grow
    And cast our hopes away,
Whilst you, regardless of our woe,        45
    Sit careless at a play,—
Perhaps permit some happier man
To kiss your hand or flirt your fan.
When any mournful tune you hear,
    That dies in every note,        50
As if it sighed with each man’s care,
    For being so remote,
Think then how often love we’ve made
To you, when all those tunes were played.
In justice you can not refuse        55
    To think of our distress,
When we for hopes of honour lose
    Our certain happiness;
All those designs are but to prove
Ourselves more worthy of your love.        60
And now we ’ve told you all our loves,
    And likewise all our fears,
In hopes this declaration moves
    Some pity from your tears:
Let ’s hear of no inconstancy,        65
We have too much of that at sea.

Shakespeare · Bible · Strunk · Anatomy · Nonfiction · Quotations · Reference · Fiction · Poetry
© 1993–2015 · [Top 150] · Subjects · Titles · Authors · World Lit.