James and Mary Ford, eds. Every Day in the Year. 1902.

November 23

Richard Hakluyt’s Men

By Wallace Rice (1859–1939)

  • Richard Hakluyt, who died in London, November 23, 1616, was an English cleric, diplomatist and geographer, with an enduring fame through his great work, “The Principall Navigations, Voiages, and Discoveries of the English Nation,” commemorating the deeds of the Elizabethan sailors, many of whom were his personal friends and acquaintance.

  • HERE is the breath of the sea,

    And here sounds the boom of the wave,

    The crash of the surf on the beach,

    For ever, eternally;

    And here, through the elements’ reach,

    The lightning, the storm, and the spume,

    Comes the cry of the seamen who gave

    Their bones to the surges to bleach,

    Their souls to a billowy doom.

    What of grey dangers afar

    In spaces uncharted, untrod?

    What though the heav’ns are a-change,

    And engulphed is the Cynosure-star?

    What though the sun has grown strange,

    And the deep has become molten brass?

    At their peak flies the Cross of their God

    And, wherever their rudders may range,

    ’Tis His voice in the tempests that pass.

    Never rolled breaker so high,

    Their courage rose not with its swell;

    Never roared thunder so loud,

    Their shouting fell short of the sky;

    Never was mortal so proud,

    They brought not his pride to despair!

    How they dared, how they fought, how they fell!

    And the Lords of the Earth, how they bowed

    To these Lords of the Sea and the Air!

    Fathers of Nations ride here,

    Their sails breasted out by the breeze,

    Their battle-flags bright in the sun.

    At their bidding vast regions appear

    To witness the race they have run.

    Woe to the foemen who seek

    To stay their march over the seas!

    How gallant the victories won—

    And how mighty the message they speak!

    Here, from the page of a priest,

    The friend of these sailors of old,

    May be heard the reverberant cheer

    That the centuries have but increased

    Till it comes like a blast to the ear.

    Rest they well, these invincible dead,

    Ships’ captains and companies bold,

    For the ocean itself is their bier,

    And the continents stones at their head.