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The Burial of the Dane

BLUE gulf all around us,
Blue sky overhead -
Muster all on the quarter,
We must bury the dead!
 
It is but a Danish sailor,
Rugged of front and form;
A common son of the forecastle,
Grizzled with sun and storm.
 
His name, and the strand he hailed from
We know, and there's nothing more!
But perhaps his mother is waiting
In the lonely Island of Fohr.
 
Still, as he lay there dying,
Reason drifting awreck,
''T is my watch,' he would mutter,
'I must go upon deck!'
 
Aye, on deck, by the foremast!
But watch and lookout are done;
The Union Jack laid o'er him,
How quiet he lies in the sun!
 
Slow the ponderous engine,
Stay the hurrying shaft;
Let the roll of the ocean
Cradle our giant craft;
Gather around the grating,
Carry your messmate aft!
 
Stand in order, and listen
To the holiest page of prayer!
Let every foot be quiet,
Every head be bare -
The soft trade-wind is lifting
A hundred locks of hair.
 
Our captain reads the service,
(A little spray on his cheeks)
The grand old words of burial,
And the trust a true heart seeks: -
'We therefore commit his body
To the deep' - and, as he speaks,
 
Launched from the weather railing,
Swift as the eye can mark,
The ghastly, shotted hammock
Plunges away from the shark,
Down, a thousand fathoms,
Down into the dark!
 
A thousand summers and winters
The stormy Gulf shall roll
High o'er his canvas coffin;
But, silence to doubt and dole: -
There's a quiet harbor somewhere
For the poor aweary soul.
 
Free the fettered engine,
Speed the tireless shaft,
Loose to'gallant and topsail,
The breeze is far abaft!
 
Blue sea all around us,
Blue sky bright o'erhead -
Every man to his duty,
We have buried our dead!

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

1:33 min read
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Henry Howard

Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, KG, (courtesy title), was an English nobleman, politician and poet. He was one of the founders of English Renaissance poetry and the last known execution by King Henry VIII. He was a first cousin of both Queen Anne Boleyn and Queen Catherine Howard, second and fifth wives of King Henry VIII. His name is usually associated in literature with that of Wyatt, who was the older poet of the two. He was the son of Thomas Howard, Earl of Surrey and when his father became Duke of Norfolk (1524) the son adopted the courtesy title of Earl of Surrey. Owing largely to the powerful position of his father, Surrey took a prominent part in the Court life of the time, and served as a soldier both in France and Scotland. He was a man of reckless temper, which involved him in many quarrels, and finally brought upon him the wrath of the aging and embittered Henry VIII. He was arrested, tried for treason and beheaded on Tower Hill. more…

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    "The Burial of the Dane" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 16 Apr. 2021. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/17409/the-burial-of-the-dane>.

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