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.