Naval Songs & Ballads - online book

3 Centuries Of Naval History In Shanties & Sea Songs With Lyrics & Notes

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Honourable Robert Blake, written immediately after his death by one George Harrison, who appears to have been serving in some capacity in the fleet, since he dates it 'on board the Dunbar, in the Downs.' This is given on p. 48.
Poets of greater repute did not neglect the theme which the naval annals of the time afforded. Andrew Marvell, in a satirical poem against the Dutch, entitled The Character of Holland— obviously written about the beginning of 1653, though it was not published till 1665—concludes with some verses on the English navy and its three admirals, Deane, Monck, and Blake. He also wrote a poem on Blake's victory at Santa Cruz. The address to his captains which he puts in Blake's mouth breathes at all events Blake's spirit, although it is fiction:
' Of speedy victory let no man doubt, Our worst work's past, now we have found them out. Behold their navy does at anchor lie, And they are ours, for now they cannot fly.'
(MarvelFs Works, ed. Aitken, i. 119; ii. 14.)
A greater poet, and more renowned than Marvell, Edmund Waller, celebrated Stayner's capture of the Spanish galleons off Cadiz in his verses, Of a war with Spain and a Fight at Sea. That poem con­tains the famous lines,
' Others may use the ocean as their road, Only the English make it their abode, Our oaks secure, as if they there took root, We tread on billows with a steady foot.'
These lines, inspired by Blake's long blockade of the Spanish coasts during 1656 and 1657, helped in their turn to inspire a line in Campbell's Mariners of England. Waller's Panegyric to my