The Sailing of the Long-ships

(October, 1899)

Original Text: 
Henry Newbolt, Poems: New and Old (London: John Murray, 1912): 82-83. PR 5103.N4 A17 Robarts Library
1They saw the cables loosened, they saw the gangways cleared,
2They heard the women weeping, they heard the men that cheered;
3Far off, far off, the tumult faded and died away,
4And all alone the sea-wind came singing up the Bay.
5"I came by Cape St. Vincent, I came by Trafalgar,
6I swept from Torres Vedras to golden Vigo Bar,
7I saw the beacons blazing that fired the world with light
8When down their ancient highway your fathers passed to fight.
9"O race of tireless fighters, flushed with a youth renewed,
10Right well the wars of Freedom befit the Sea-kings' brood;
11Yet as ye go forget not the fame of yonder shore,
12The fame ye owe your fathers and the old time before.
13"Long-suffering were the Sea-kings, they were not swift to kill,
14But when the sands had fallen they waited no man's will;
15Though all the world forbade them, they counted not nor cared,
16They weighed not help or hindrance, they did the thing they dared.
17"The Sea-kings loved not boasting, they cursed not him that cursed,
18They honoured all men duly, and him that faced them, first;
19They strove and knew not hatred, they smote and toiled to save,
20They tended whom they vanquished, they praised the fallen brave.
21"Their fame's on Torres Vedras, their fame's on Vigo Bar,
22Far-flashed to Cape St. Vincent it burns from Trafalgar;
23Mark as ye go the beacons that woke the world with light
24When down their ancient highway your fathers passed to fight."
Publication Start Year: 
Publication Notes: 
The Sailing of the Long-Ships and other poems, 1902
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: