Robert Blake,


Our Happy Warrior !  of a race1
To whom are richly given2
Great glory and peculiar grace3
Because in league with Heaven.4
Not that the mortal course they trod5
Was free from briar and thorn ;6
Who bears the arrow mark of God, 7
Must first the wound have borne.8
O like a Sailor Saint was he,9
Our Sea-king ! grave and sweet10
In temper after victory,11
Or cheerful in defeat ;12
And men would leave their quiet home13
To follow in his wake,14
And fight in fire, or float in foam,15
For love of Robert Blake.16
Like that drumhead of Zitska’s skin,17
Thrills his heroic name,18
And how the salt-sea-sparkle in19
Us, flashes at his fame !20
His picture in our hearts’ best books21
Still keeps its pride of place22
From which a noble spirit looks 23
With an unfading face ;24
A face as of an Angel, who25
Might live his Boyhood here !26
And yet how deadly grand it grew,27
When Wrong drew darkening near.28
All ridged, and ready trench’d for war,29
The fair frank brow was bent.30
Then flash’d like sudden scimitar,31
The lion lineament.32
Behold him, with his gallant band.33
On leagured Lyme’s red beach,34
Shoulder to shoulder, see them stand,35
At Taunton in the breach,36
Safe through the battle shocks he went,37
With sword-sweep stern and wide ;38
Strode the grim heaps as Death had lent39
Him his White Horse to ride.40
Give in ! our toils you cannot break ;41
The Lion is in the net !42
Famine fights for us.” “No,” said Blake,43
My boots I have not ate.”44
He smiled across the bitter cup ;45
He gripped his good Sword-heft :46
I should not dream of giving up 47
While such a meal is left.”48
Where trumpets blow and streamers flow,49
Behold him, calm and proud,50
Bear down upon his bravest foe,51
A bursting thunder-cloud,52
Foremost of all the host that strove53
To crowd Death’s open door,54
In giant mood his way he clove,55
The Man to go before.56
And though the battle lightning blazed,57
The thunders roar and roll,58
He to Immortal Beauty raised,59
A statue with his soul.60
And never did the Greeks of old61
Mirror in marble rare62
A Wrestler of so fine a mould,63
An Athlete half so fair.64
Homeward the dying Sea-king turns65
From his last famous fight,66
For England’s dear green hills he yearns67
At heart, and strains his sight.68
The old cliffs loom out grey and grand,69
The old War-ship glides on,70
With one last wave life tries to land,71
Falls seaward, and is gone.72
With that last leap to touch the coast,73
He passed into his rest,74
And Blake’s unwearying arms were crossed75
Upon his martial breast.76
And while our England waits, and twines77
For him her latest wreath,78
His is a crown of stars that shines79
From out the dusk of death.80
For him no pleasant age of ease,81
To wear what youth could win,82
For him no children round his knees,83
To get his harvest in.84
But with a soul serene, he takes85
Whatever lot may come ;86
And such a life of labour makes87
A glorious going home.88
Famous old Trucheart, dead and gone,89
Long shall his glory grow,90
Who never turned his back upon91
A friend, nor face from foe.92
He made them fear old England’s name93
Wherever it was heard,94
He put her proudest foes to shame,95
For God smiled on his Sword.96
Till she forget her old sea-fame,97
Shall England honour him.98
And keep the grave-dust from his name,99
Till her old eyes be dim.100
And long as free waves folding round,101
Brimful with blessing break,102
At heart she holds him, calm and crowned,103
Immortal Robert Blake.104