Verse > Anthologies > James and Mary Ford, eds. > Every Day in the Year
James and Mary Ford, eds.  Every Day in the Year.  1902.
November 20
By Henry Newbolt (1862–1938)
          Quiberon Bay is a small arm of the Bay of Biscay. Here the British, under Hawke, gained a victory over the French, under Conflans, on Nov. 20, 1759.

IN seventeen hundred and fifty-nine,
  When Hawke came swooping from the West,
The French King’s Admiral with twenty of the line
  Was sailing forth to sack us, out of Brest.
The ports of France were crowded, the quays of France a-hum        5
  With thirty thousand soldiers marching to the drum,
For bragging time was over and fighting time was come
  When Hawke came swooping from the West.
’Twas long past noon of a wild November day
  When Hawke came swooping from the West;        10
He heard the breakers thundering in Quiberon Bay,
  But he flew the flag for battle, line abreast.
Down upon the quicksands roaring out of sight
Fiercely beat the storm-wind, darkly fell the night,
But they took the foe for pilot and the cannon’s glare for light        15
  When Hawke came swooping from the West.
The Frenchmen turned like a covey down the wind
  When Hawke came swooping from the West;
One he sank with all hands, one he caught and pinned,
  And the shallows and the storm took the rest.        20
The guns that should have conquered us they rusted on the shore
The men that would have mastered us they drummed and marched no more,
For England was England, and a mighty brood she bore
  When Hawke came swooping from the West.

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