Home  »  library  »  Song  »  Charles Sackville, Earl of Dorset (1638–1706)

C.D. Warner, et al., comp.
The Library of the World’s Best Literature. An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

Charles Sackville, Earl of Dorset (1638–1706)

Song Written at Sea

In the First Dutch War, June 2d, 1665, the Night before an Engagement

TO all you ladies now on land,

We men, at sea, indite;

But first would have you understand

How hard it is to write:

The Muses now, and Neptune too,

We must implore to write to you,

With a Fa, la, la, la, la.

For though the Muses should prove kind,

And fill our empty brain,

Yet if rough Neptune rouse the wind

To wave the azure main,

Our paper, pen, and ink, and we,

Roll up and down our ships at sea,

With a Fa, la, la, la, la.

Then if we write not by each post,

Think not we are unkind;

Nor yet conclude our ships are lost,

By Dutchmen or by wind:

Our tears we’ll send a speedier way,—

The tide shall bring ’em twice a day,

With a Fa, la, la, la, la….

Let wind and weather do its worst,

Be you to us but kind;

Let Dutchmen vapor, Spaniards curse,

No sorrow we shall find:

’Tis then no matter how things go,

Or who’s our friend, or who’s our foe,

With a Fa, la, la, la, la….

But now our fears tempestuous grow,

And cast our hopes away:

Whilst you, regardless of our woe,

Sit careless at a play;

Perhaps permit some happier man

To kiss your hand, or flirt your fan,

With a Fa, la, la, la, la….

In justice you cannot refuse

To think of our distress,

When we for hopes of honor lose

Our certain happiness:

All those designs are but to prove

Ourselves more worthy of your love,

With a Fa, la, la, la, la.

And now we’ve told you all our loves,

And likewise all our fears;

In hopes this declaration moves

Some pity from your tears:

Let’s hear of no inconstancy,—

We have too much of that at sea,

With a Fa, la, la, la, la.