Farthingale Publications

Poetry to Please

The Armada (an extract)

It was about the lovely close of a warm sunny day,
There came a gallant merchant ship full sail to Plymouth Bay;
Her crew hath seen Castile's black fleet, beyond Aurigny's isle,
At earliest twilight, on the waves lie heaving many a mile.
At sunrise she escaped their van, by God's especial grace;
And the tall Pinta, till the noon, had held her close in chase.
Forthwith a guard at every gun was placed along the wall;
The beacon blazed upon the roof of Edgecumbe's lofty hall;
Many a light fishing-bark put out to pry along the coast,
And with loose rein and bloody spur rode inland many a post.
With his white hair unbonneted, the stout old sheriff comes;
Behind him march the halberdiers; before him sound the drums;
His yeomen round the market cross make clear an ample space;
For there behoves him to set up the standard of Her Grace.
And haughtily the trumpets peal, and gaily dance the bells,
As slow upon the labouring wind the royal blazon wells.
Look how the Lion of the sea lifts up his ancient crown,
And underneath his deadly paw treads the gay lilies down.
So stalked he when he turned to flight, o . that famed Picard field
Bohemia's plume, and Genoa's bow, and Caesar's eagle shield.
So glared he when at Agincourt in wrath he turned to bay,
And crushed and torn beneath his claws the princely hunters lay.
Ho! strike the flagstaff deep, Sir Knight: ho! scatter flowers, fair maids:
Ho! gunners, fire a loud salute: ho! gallants, draw your blades:
Thou sun, shine on her joyously; ye breezes, waft her wide;
Our glorious Semper Eadem, the banner of our pride.....

Thomas Macaulay 1800-1859


Thomas Babington Macaulay was an English poet, historian and politician and a fine orator who became the member of parliament for Leeds, serving as a member of the cabinet under several prime ministers. Born in Leicestershire, very talented as a child, he was educated at a private school later progressing to Trinity College Cambridge where he studied law, was called to the bar in 1826 before his interest in politics lead him into public life, whilst maintaining his literary and historical interests and his prolific writings in both.

A Wet Sheet and a Flowing Sea

A wet sheet and a flowing sea,
A wind that follows fast
And fills the white and rustling sail
And bends the gallant mast;
And bends the gallant mast, my boys,
While like the eagle free
Away the good ship flies, and leaves
Old England on the lee.

O for a soft and gentle wind!
I heard a fair one cry;
But give to me the snoring breeze
And white waves heaving high;
And white waves heaving high, my lads,
The good ship tight and free-
The world of waters is our home,
And merry men are we.

There's tempest in yon hornéd moon,
And lightning in yon cloud;
But hark the music, mariners!
The wind is piping loud;
The wind is piping loud, my boys,
The lightning flashes free-
While the hollow oak our palace is,
Our heritage the sea.

Allan Cunningham 1784-1842


Allan Cunningham was born in Dumfries, his family neighbours of Robert Burns who was to have a huge influence on the development of young Cunningham's literary talent. After his early schooling he was apprenticed to a stonemason, whilst also practising his skills as a natural writer and poet in his spare time. He later went to London and continued his interest in collecting and publishing ballads, contributing articles to literary magazines, writing poems and stories and having many of his works published, whilst acting as assistant to the sculptor Sir Francis Chantrey.


I went into a public-'ouse to get a pint o' beer,
The publican 'e up an' sez 'We serve no red-coats here.'
The girls be'ind the bar they laughed an' giggled fit to die,
I outs into the street again an' to myself sez I:
O it's Tommy this an' Tommy-that, an' 'Tommy, go away';
But it's 'Thank you, Mister Atkins,' when the band begins to play-
The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play'
O it's 'Thank you, Mister Atkins,when the band begins to play.

I went into a theatre as sober as could be,
They gave a drunk civilian room, but 'adn't none for me;
They sent me to the gallery or round the music-'alls,
But when it comes to fightin', Lord! they'll shove me in the stalls!
For it's Tommy this] an' Tommy that, an' 'Tommy, wait outside';
But it's 'Special train for Atkins' when the trooper's on the tide-
The troopship's on the tide, my boys, the troopship's on the tide,
O it's 'special train for Atkins' when the trooper's on the tide.

Yes, makin' mock o' uniforms that guard you while you sleep
Is cheaper than them uniforms, an' they're starvation cheap;
An' hustlin' drunken soldienrs when they're goin' large a bit
Is five times better business than paradin' in full kit.
Then it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that an' 'Tommy, 'ow's yer soul?'
But it's 'Thin red line of 'eroes' when the drums begin to roll-
The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,
O it's 'Thin red line of 'eroes' when the drums begin to roll.

We aren't no thin red 'eroes, nor we aren't no blackguards too,
But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you;
An' if sometimes our conduck isn't all your fancy paints,
Why, single men in barricks don't grow into plaster saints;
While it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' 'Tommy, fall be'ind,'
But its 'Please to walk in front, sir, 'when there's trouble in the wind-
There's trouble in the wind, my boys, there's trouble in the wind,
O it's 'Please to walk in front, sir, 'when there's trouble in the wind.

You talk o' better food for us, an' schools, an' fires, an' all:
We'll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.
Don't mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face
The Widow's Uniform is not the soldier-man's disgrace.
For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that an' 'Chuck him out, the brute!'
But it's 'Saviour of 'is country' when the guns begin to shoot;
An' it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that an' anything you please;
An' Tommy ain't a bloomin' fool-you bet that Tommy sees!

Rudyard Kipling


Joseph Rudyard Kipling was born in Bombay in 1865 and lived there until the age of six, when he was sent back to boarding school in England. He studied at the United Services College at Westward Ho, Devon, then returned to India to work as a journalist from 1882 to 1889. Kipling first became famous for the stories and poems he published in the 1880s and 90s, but attitudes towards the British Empire were changing at the end of the 19th century and his verse was often criticised for its imperialist slant. His stories for children were unqualified successes, though, and The Jungle Book (1894) and Just So Stories (1902) remain popular over a century later. In 1907, Kipling was proud to be the first English writer ever to be awarded a Nobel Prize for Literature. In 1910, he published the much acclaimed Kim, a novel that vividly describes life in India, and his autobiography, "Something of Myself", was published in 1937, the year after his death.