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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
England: Vols. I–IV. 1876–79.


The Spanish Armada

By Thomas Babington, Lord Macaulay (1800–1859)

ATTEND all ye who list to hear

Our noble England’s praise!

I tell of the thrice famous deeds

She wrought in ancient days,

When that great fleet invincible

Against her bore in vain

The richest spoils of Mexico,

The stoutest hearts of Spain.

It was about the lovely close

Of a warm summer day,

There came a gallant merchant-ship

Full sail to Plymouth Bay;

Her crew had 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 moon,

Had held her close in chase.

Forthwith, a guard at every gun

Was placed along the wall;

The beacon blazed upon the roof

Of Edgecombe’s lofty hall,

And many a 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 gayly dance the bells,

As slow upon the laboring wind

The royal blazon swells.

Look how the lion of the seas

Lifts up his ancient crown,

And underneath his deadly paw

Treads the gay lilies down!

So stalked he when he turned to flight,

On that famed Picard field,

Bohemia’s plume, Genoa’s bow,

And Cæsar’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!

The freshening breeze of eve unfurled

That banner’s massy fold,—

The parting gleam of sunshine kissed

That haughty scroll of gold;

Night sank upon the dusky beach,

And on the purple sea,—

Such night in England ne’er had been,

Nor e’er again shall be.

From Eddystone to Berwick bounds,

From Lynn to Milford Bay,

That time of slumber was as bright

And busy as the day;

For swift to east and swift to west

The warning radiance spread;

High on St. Michael’s Mount it shone,

It shone on Beachy Head.

Far on the deep the Spaniard saw,

Along each southern shire,

Cape beyond cape, in endless range,

Those twinkling points of fire;

The fisher left his skiff to rock

On Tamar’s glittering waves,

The rugged miners poured to war

From Mendip’s sunless caves.

O’er Longleat’s towers, o’er Cranbourne’s oaks,

The fiery herald flew;

He roused the shepherds of Stonehenge,

The rangers of Beaulieu.

Right sharp and quick the bells all night

Rang out from Bristol town,

And ere the day three hundred horse

Had met on Clifton down;

The sentinel on Whitehall Gate

Looked forth into the night,

And saw o’erhanging Richmond Hill

The streak of blood-red light.

Then bugle’s note and cannon’s roar

The death-like silence broke,

And with one start and with one cry

The royal city woke.

At once on all her stately gates

Arose the answering fires;

At once the wild alarum clashed

From all her reeling spires;

From all the batteries of the Tower

Pealed loud the voice of fear;

And all the thousand masts of Thames

Sent back a louder cheer;

And from the farthest wards was heard

The rush of hurrying feet,

And the broad streams of flags and pikes

Dashed down each roaring street;

And broader still became the blaze,

And louder still the din,

As fast from every village round

The horse came spurring in;

And eastward straight, from wild Blackheath,

The warlike errand went,

And roused in many an ancient hall,

The gallant squires of Kent.

South ward from Surrey’s pleasant hills

Flew those bright couriers forth;

High on bleak Hempstead’s swarthy moor

They started for the north;

And on and on, without a pause,

Untired they bounded still;

All night from tower to tower they sprang,—

They sprang from hill to hill,

Till the proud Peak unfurled the flag

O’er Darwin’s rocky dales,—

Till like volcanoes flared to heaven

The stormy hills of Wales,—

Till twelve fair counties saw the blaze

On Malvern’s lonely height,

Till streamed in crimson on the wind

The Wrekin’s crest of light,—

Till broad and fierce the star came forth

On Ely’s stately fane,

And tower and hamlet rose in arms

O’er all the boundless plain,—

Till Belvoir’s lordly terraces

The sign to Lincoln sent,

And Lincoln sped the message on

O’er the wide vale of Trent,—

Till Skiddaw saw the fire that burned

On Gaunt’s embattled pile,

And the red glare on Skiddaw roused

The burghers of Carlisle!