Verse > Anthologies > William McCarty, ed. > The American National Song Book
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William McCarty, comp.  The American National Song Book.  1842.
 
A Sea Piece
 
          Occasioned by the supposed, and too probable, loss of the United States ship Hornet, It is a sort of recitation, uniting the “orders” of the boatswain, with the poetical description of the loss of the Hornet.

      —Call the watch!—call the watch!
“Ho! the starboard watch, ahoy!”—Have you heard
  How a noble ship, so trim, like our own, my hearties, here,
All scudding ’fore the gale, disappear’d
  Where yon southern billows roll o’er their bed so green and clear!        5
Hold the reel! keep her full! hold the reel!
  How she flew athwart the spray, as, shipmates, we do now—
Till her twice a hundred fearless hearts of steel
  Felt the whirlwind lift its waters aft and plunge her downward bow!
                Bear a hand!        10
 
Strike top-gallants!—mind your helm!—jump aloft!
  ’Twas such a night as this, my lads, a rakish bark was drown’d,
When demons foul, that whisper seamen oft,
  Scoop’d a tomb amid the flashing surge that never shall be found.
Square the yards!—a double reef!—Hark! the blast!        15
  O! fiercely has it fallen on the war ship of the brave!
When its tempest fury stretch’d the stately mast
  All along the foamy sides, as they shouted on the wave.
                Bear a hand!
 
      —Call the watch!—call the watch!        20
“Ho! the larboard watch, ahoy!”—Have you heard
  How a vessel, gay and taunt, on the mountains of the sea,
Went below, with all her warlike crew on board—
  They who battled for the happy, boys, and perish’d for the free?
Clew, clew up, fore and aft!—keep her away!        25
  How the vulture bird of death, in its black and viewless form,
Hover’d sure o’er the clamours of his prey,
  While, through all their dripping shrouds, yell’d the spirit of the storm!
                Bear a hand!
 
Now, out reefs!—brace the yard!—lively, there!        30
  O! no more to homeward breeze shall her swelling bosom spread,
But love’s expectant eye bid despair
  Set her raven watch eternal o’er the wreck in ocean’s bed!
Board your tacks!—cheerly, boys! But for them,
  Their last evening gun is fired—their gales are overblown!        35
O’er their smoking deck no starry flag shall stream!
  They’ll sail no more—they’ll fight no more—for their gallant ship’s gone down!
                Bear a hand!
 
 
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