Song, Written at Sea

Original Text: 
Wit and Mirth (1714), with the sub-title: "Written at sea, in the First Dutch War, 1665, the night before an engagement."
1To all you ladies now at land
2      We men at sea indite;
3But first would have you understand
4      How hard it is to write:
5The Muses now, and Neptune too,
6We must implore to write to you--
7           With a fa, la, la, la, la!
8For though the Muses should prove kind,
9      And fill our empty brain,
10Yet if rough Neptune rouse the wind
11      To wave the azure main,
12Our paper, pen, and ink, and we,
13Roll up and down our ships at sea--
14           With a fa, la, la, la, la!
15Then if we write not by each post,
16      Think not we are unkind;
17Nor yet conclude our ships are lost
18      By Dutchmen, or by wind:
19Our tears we'll send a speedier way,
20The tide shall bring 'em twice a day--
21           With a fa, la, la, la, la!
22The King with wonder and surprise
23      Will swear the seas grow bold.
24Because the tides will higher rise
25      Then e'er they us'd of old;
26But let him know it is our tears
28           With a fa, la, la, la. la!
30      Our sad and dismal story,
31The Dutch would scorn so weak a foe,
33For what resistance can they find
34From men who've left their hearts behind?-
35           With a fa, la, la, la, la!
36Let wind and weather do its worst,
37      Be you to us but kind;
38Let Dutchmen vapour, Spaniards curse,
39      No sorrow we shall find;
40'Tis then no matter how things go,
41Or who's our friend, or who's our foe--
42           With a fa, la, la, la, la!
43To pass our tedious hours away
44      We throw a merry main,
46      But why should we in vain
47Each other's ruin thus pursue?
48We were undone when we left you--
49           With a fa, la, la, la, la!
50But now our fears tempestuous grow
51      And cast our hopes away,
52Whilst you, regardless of our woe,
53      Sit careless at a play:
54Perhaps permit some happier man
55To kiss your hand, or flirt your fan--
56           With a fa, la, la, la, la!
57When any mournful tune you hear
58      That dies in ev'ry note,
59As if it sigh'd with each man's care
60        For being so remote,
61Think then how often love we've made
62To you, when all those tunes were play'd--
63           With a fa, la, la, la, la!
64In justice you cannot refuse
65      To think of our distress,
66When we for hopes of honour lose
67      Our certain happiness;
68All those designs are but to prove
69Ourselves more worthy of your love--
70           With a fa, la, la, la, la!
71And now we've told you all our loves,
72      And likewise all our fears,
73In hopes this declaration moves
74      Some pity from your tears:
75Let's hear of no inconstancy,
76We have too much of that at sea--
77           With a fa, la, la, la, la!

Notes

27] Whitehall: the seat of government and the king's residence. Back to Line
29] Opdam: a Dutch admiral. Back to Line
32] Goree: an island off the west coast of Africa captured from the Dutch by the English in 1663, retaken by the Dutch in 1664. Back to Line
45] ombre: a card game; see Pope, The Rape of the Lock, III, 27 ff. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
1714
RPO poem Editors: 
G. G. Falle
RPO Edition: 
3RP 2.55-57.
Rhyme: