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And the masts, with all their rigging,
Fell slowly, one by one,
And the hulk dilated and vanished,
And the people who saw this marvel
That this was the mould of their vessel,
And the pastor of the village
Gave thanks to God in prayer,
THE WARDEN OF THE CINQUE PORTS.
A MIST was driving down the British Channel, The day was just begun,
And through the window-panes, on floor and
Streamed the red autumn sun.
It glanced on flowing flag and rippling pennon, And the white sails of ships;
And, from the frowning rampart, the black
Hailed it with feverish lips.
Sandwich and Romney, Hastings, Hithe, and Dover
Were all alert that day,
To see the French war-steamers speeding
When the fog cleared away.
Sullen and silent, and like couchant lions,
Holding their breath, had watched, in grim
The sea-coast opposite.
And now they roared at drum-beat from their
On every citadel;
Each answering each, with morning saluta
That all was well.
And down the coast, all taking up the burden, Replied the distant forts,
As if to summon from his sleep the Warden And Lord of the Cinque Ports.
Him shall no sunshine from the fields of azure, No drum-beat from the wall,
No morning gun from the black fort's embrasure, Awaken with its call!
No more, surveying with an eye impartial
Shall the gaunt figure of the old Field Marshal
For in the night, unseen, a single warrior,
Dreaded of man, and surnamed the Destroyer,
He passed into the chamber of the sleeper,
And as he entered, darker grew, and deeper, The silence and the gloom.
He did not pause to parley or dissemble,
Ah! what a blow! that made all England
And groan from shore to shore.
Meanwhile, without, the surly cannon waited,