poet David Lewis Paget

David Lewis Paget


A nursery governess stood and stared
At a hundred and fifty ships,
That lay in the Harbour at Lisbon where
They loaded each Galleass,
They bristled with brass and iron guns
With cannon and shot to spare,
And thousands of Spanish soldiers, heading
For England, do or dare!

A girl from a gentle Sussex home,
She thought of her father's fate,
A bluff, old-fashioned seafarer
Who had sailed with Francis Drake,
But this was surely the grandest fleet
That ever had put to sea,
Since Christ had walked on the water
On that lake, in Galilee.

She took up her parchment, dipped the quill
And wrote to a face unknown,
She knew that the King of Spain would seek
To usurp Elizabeth's throne,
Her countrymen must be forewarned
Must all be made to see!
She wrote: 'A massive Armada sails
To seize your good country! '

She thrust it into a bottle that
Had held fine Spanish wine,
Then sealed the top with a plug of wax
To keep the message dry.
She flung it over the nearest cliff,
It drifted out to sea,
A message, meant for Sir Francis Drake
And all his company.

The bottle had bobbed on the surface as
The governess knelt and prayed,
'Dear Lord, deliver me just one thing
That England might be saved!
I'm merely an English governess,
Not versed in tricks or guile,
But if I could save dear England, then
My life had been worthwhile.'

The bottle still bobbed in the Channel, then
Was swept due south and west,
Right out to the mid-Atlantic swell
It made its way, unblessed,
For thirty years it had bobbled about,
Remained unseen by man,
Then landed in Plymouth Harbour, and
Lay careless on the sand.

The tribe who discovered it couldn't read,
They thought that it was a sign,
The gods had sent them a message, locked
In a glass that smelt of wine.
The parchment lay in a curl inside
But nothing would set it free,
It said: 'A massive Armada sails
To seize your good country! '

There followed a ship with billowing sails,
And men with a paler skin,
The lettering spelt 'The Mayflower',
They just couldn't read it then.
They threw the bottle back into the sea
To rid the land of its curse,
But soon the others came billowing in,
The 'Mayflower' was the first!

While over in Sussex there lived a maid,
Who once was a governess,
For one great day in a humble life,
She thought, had seen her blessed!
She thought of the sailor who'd read her note,
Who'd plucked it out from the sea,
And routed the Spanish Armada - 'Thanks
To Francis Drake, and me! '

She never would know, the bottle was still
Afloat by the eastern coast,
For thirty years in the Caribbean
Her message floated, lost.
It came ashore at Spanish Town
Its message was there to see,
It said: 'A mighty Armada sails
To seize your good country! '

And then came the English buccaneers,
Port Royal, their pirate den,
The Spaniards lost Jamaica to
The Fleet of William Penn,
The bottle floated away once more
To travel the world around,
In Sussex, a humble governess
Was planted, there in the ground.

A hundred and thirty years went by,
The bottle had floated still,
Until it discovered that Southern Land
Of virgin green and hill,
It came ashore at Port Jackson, lay
Unheeded by the sea,
Was brought ashore by a warrior,
An Aborigine.

He never had seen its like, he tried
To understand its creed,
The message was plainly visible
If only he could read,
While back in Sussex, stood the stone
Now powdered where she lay,
A humble Sussex governess
Whose message ruled the day.

The First Fleet came in '88,
And drove them from the shore,
This seemingly great Armada that
Would launch Australia.
He threw the bottle back, in hopes,
This Aborigine,
That the ships would sail away again -
But this would never be!

That bottle, chipped and scarred by time
Went round the world once more,
A hundred and fifty years or so
Before it came ashore,
But then the Great Armada sailed
The greatest yet by far,
That final message was waiting there,
On a beach called 'Omaha! '

20 October 2009

Poem Submitted: Monday, October 19, 2009

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Comments about Armada by David Lewis Paget

  • Keith Osborne (4/26/2013 5:49:00 PM)

    Brilliant! Great story beatufilly told.

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