Roden Berkeley Wriothesley Noel

(1834-1894 / England)

The Lifeboat - Poem by Roden Berkeley Wriothesley Noel

The manhood of our rugged coast,
Nelson's indomitable host,
Our manhood braves the raging seas,
Deaf to prayers of siren Ease,
Or warm Affection's humid eye,
To rescue shipwrecked souls who cry. . . .
Hoar ocean's wrathful night-usurping noise
Warns, like a dread god's doom-denouncing voice;
They lean athwart the solid wall of blast,
Blinded with flying froth from forth the vast,
That spits contumely from moving mountains
Of toppling water torn to foam-white fountains;
The maniac surge leaps furious while they launch;
Falls a dead-weight upon the bark so staunch;
But may not shake the mighty hearts that use
All strength of stalwart limbs and iron thews
To strain their oars athwart the swirling brine:
Big-booted, and large-chested, they incline
Broad backs together! grim face and set eyes
Of coxwain fail not, nor strong hand that plies
Swift function of the tiller: how they bound
Up, down, abysmal cliffs of night profound,
That flash fierce scorn of them, engulfed beneath,
Hiss up to Heaven, and threaten with white teeth!
Hark! through the storm-embroilment a faint sound
Of guns appealing; piteous rend the sky
Red signals from the wreck's extremity!
Their lifeboat battles with the wave;
Grace Darling's countrymen will save,
Or perish! . . . perish! on the shore
They are thrown lifeless 'mid the roar!
Now mothers, wives, and children weep:
All England bends above their solemn sleep:
Hear her intone their requiem full, and grand, and deep!

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Poem Submitted: Thursday, April 22, 2010

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