The Great War

from Poems of the Great War, an electronic edition

Off Heligoland

Ghostly ships in a ghostly sea,

(Here's to Drake in the Spanish main!)

Hark to the turbines, running free,

Oil-cups full and the orders plain.

Plunging into the misty night,

Surging into the rolling brine,

Never a word, and never a light,

-- This for England that love of mine!

Look! a gleam on the starboard bow,

(Here's to the Fighting Temeraire!)

Quartermaster be ready now,

Two points over, and keep her there.

Ghostly ships -- let the foemen grieve.

Yon's the Admiral tight and trim,

And one more -- with an empty sleeve --

Standing a little aft of him!

Slender, young in a coat of blue,

(Here's to the Agamemnon's pride!)

Out of the mists that long he knew,

Out of the Victory, where he died,

Here to the battle-front he came.

See, he smiles in his gallant way!

Ghostly ships in a ghostly game,

Roaring guns on a ghostly day!

There in his white silk smalls he stands,

(Here's to Nelson, with three times three!)

Coming out of the misty lands

Far, far over the misty sea.

Now the Foe is a crippled wreck,

Limping out of the deadly fight.

Smiling yond on the quarterdeck

Stands the Spirit, all silver-bright.