Naval Songs & Ballads - online book

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

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' On high-raised decks the haughty Belgians ride, Beneath whose shade our humble frigates go;
Such port the elephant bears, and so defied By the rhinoceros, her unequal foe.
' And as the build, so different is the fight;
Their mounting shot is on our sails designed : Deep in their hulls our deadly bullets light,
And through the yielding planks a passage find.'
In his desire to be true to the facts, and exact in the details, he did not hesitate to employ technical sea terms which no previous poet had dared to intro­duce in his verse. See, for instance, his descrip­tion of the refitting of the English fleet after the four days' battle:
'. . . some pick out bullets from the side,
Some drive old oakum through each seam and rift;, Their left hand does the caulking iron guide, The rattling mallet with the right they lift.
Some the galled ropes with dauby marling bind Or sear-cloth masts with strong tarpauling coats ;
To try the shrouds one mounts into the wind, And one below their ease or stiffness notes.'
Two other poets of the day treated the story of the Dutch war, but their verses were written under the influence of the disgrace of 1667, and they wrote satires instead of eulogies. In a series of poems, four in all, generally known as Directions to a Painter, Sir John Denham parodied Waller's Advice and carried the story down to the end of the war. All are printed in the collection of political satires published in 1703 called Poems on Affairs of State (i. 24-54). When the first part' appeared 'abusing the Duke of York and Lord Sandwich and Penn and everybody, and the King