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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

The Yankee Man-of-War

By Anonymous

[Date uncertain. Words and Music Printed, for the first time, in Commodore Luce’s “Naval Songs.” 1883.]

  • “As to the authorship of the words or music of this fine old song, of Paul Jones’s cruise in ‘The Ranger’ (Irish Channel, 1778), I am quite unable to speak. It was given me by a gentleman whose brother heard the sailors sing it, and in that way picked it up. I am confident however, that it is one of those songs that have been ‘handed down’ to us from near the time of the exploit which it commemorates.”—Letter from COMM. STEPHEN B. LUCE, U. S. N., 21 Aug., 1885.

  • ’TIS of a gallant Yankee ship that flew the stripes and stars,

    And the whistling wind from the west-nor’-west blew through the pitch-pine spars,

    With her starboard tacks aboard, my boys, she hung upon the gale;

    On an autumn night we raised the light on the old Head of Kinsale.

    It was a clear and cloudless night, and the wind blew steady and strong,

    As gayly over the sparkling deep our good ship bowled along;

    With the foaming seas beneath her bow the fiery waves she spread,

    And bending low her bosom of snow, she buried her lee cat-head.

    There was no talk of short’ning sail by him who walked the poop,

    And under the press of her pond’ring jib, the boom bent like a hoop!

    And the groaning water-ways told the strain that held her stout main-tack,

    But he only laughed as he glanced aloft at a white and silvery track.

    The mid-tide meets in the channel waves that flow from shore to shore,

    And the mist hung heavy upon the land from Featherstone to Dunmore

    And that sterling light in Tusker Rock where the old bell tolls each hour,

    And the beacon light that shone so bright was quench’d on Waterford Tower.

    The nightly robes our good ship wore were her three topsails set

    Her spanker and her standing jib—the courses being fast;

    “Now, lay aloft! my heroes bold, lose not a moment yet!”

    And royals and top-gallant sails were quickly on each mast.

    What looms upon our starboard bow? What hangs upon the breeze?

    ’Tis time our good ship hauled her wind abreast the old Saltee’s,

    For by her ponderous press of sail and by her consorts four

    We saw our morning visitor was a British man-of-war.

    Up spake our noble Captain then, as a shot ahead of us past—

    “Haul snug your flowing courses! lay your topsail to the mast!”

    Those Englishmen gave three loud hurrahs from the deck of their covered ark,

    And we answered back by a solid broadside from the decks of our patriot bark.

    “Out booms! out booms!” our skipper cried, “out booms and give her sheet,”

    And the swiftest keel that was ever launched shot ahead of the British fleet,

    And amidst a thundering shower of shot, with stun’-sails hoisting away,

    Down the North Channel Paul Jones did steer just at the break of day.