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69. the Rat-Hole squadron.

by P. Remsen strong.
Steadily, grimly, o'er the waters,
     Moves a veteran fleet:
Steadily, grimly steering Southward,
     Strangest doom to meet!

Laden down to their very gunwales,
     Groaning 'neath their freight,
Food for sport to the mocking billows--
     Ministers of Fate!

Side by side, like a band of brothers
     Knit by a common vow Steadily, slowly moving Southward,
Points each weary prow.

All, from main-truck down to kelson,
     Seamed with ghastly scars,
Canvas sere, and straining cordage,
     Rotting planks and spars.

Racked by thousand fierce encounters,
     Worn by tempest-shocks,
Crippled by the raging billows,
     Treacherous shoals and rocks.

Many a year, among the icebergs,
     By the wild Northern light,
They have chased the ocean-monsters
     In their desperate flight.

Fierce pursuit and boisterous triumph:
     Swift each glad return:
Echoing shouts would hail the headland
     Where the watchfires burn.

Burthened now with many winters,
     Shattered wrecks of Time,
Mightier service shall they render,
     Than in proudest prime.

Damming up a venomed fountain;
     Hemming Treason in;
Forcing back its loathsome current,
     Foul and black with sin.

Teaching wide the bitter lesson,
     (Wholesome, though 'tis late)--
Rebel hordes and noxious vermin
     Find a common fate.

O'er them now may roll the billows
     Once they proudly rode;
Sea-birds shriek to see them reeling,
     Plunging with their load.

Steadily, grimly moving Southward,
     Justice wings their flight: He, who shaped our Nation's future,
Guides their course aright.

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