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Pirate Poems

Table of Contents

  1. The Swashbuckler by Madison Cawein
  2. The Pirate-Ship by William Bingham Tappan
  3. The Captive Pirate by Caroline Sheridan Norton
  4. I'm a Pirate by Annette Wynne
  5. Pirate Story by Robert Louis Stevenson

  1. The Swashbuckler

    by Madison Cawein

    Squat-nosed and broad, of big and pompous port;
    A tavern visage, apoplexy haunts,
    All pimple-puffed: the Falstaff-like resort
    Of fat debauchery, whose veined cheek flaunts
    A flabby purple: rusty-spurred he stands
    In rakehell boots and belt, and hanger that
    Claps when, with greasy gauntlets on his hands,
    He swaggers past in cloak and slouch-plumed hat.
    Aggression marches armies in his words;
    And in his oaths great deeds ride cap-à-pie;
    His looks, his gestures breathe the breath of swords;
    And in his carriage camp all wars to be:—
    With him of battles there shall be no lack
    While buxom wenches are and stoops of sack.

  2. The Pirate-Ship

    by William Bingham Tappan

    Midnight reigns;—on the ocean
    Calmly sleeps the starry beam;
    Steady is the barque's proud motion,
    Peaceful is the sailor's dream.

    Sailor, waken, death is near,
    Waken from deceitful sleep;
    Sailor, ere the dawn appear,
    Thou shalt slumber in the deep.

    Lightly on the riven wave,
    Bounding swift, with murderous mein,
    Ploughing o'er its victim's grave,
    Lo, the pirate-ship is seen.

    Gorged from guilt's infernal womb,
    Lurk around the savage crew;
    On each brow, the fiend of gloom
    Stamps its seal, to horror true.

    Luxury of crime is theirs,
    Dead to feeling, as to fear;
    Cruelty each bosom shares,
    Banqueting on sorrow's tear.

    Gold their idol, to the god
    Nightly, fearful orgies rise;
    Rites accursed, steeped in blood,
    Mark the human sacrifice.

    Like a demon ripe from hell,
    See the chieftain stalk apart;
    Hark, his voice, 'tis misery's knell,
    Joy alone could writhe his heart.

    Dear to him is childhood's moan,
    Female shrieks to him are bliss;
    Mercy, canst thou rear thy throne
    In a bosom seared like this?

    Now with crime-accursed mirth,
    Horrid laughter shakes the sky;
    Drunk with blood, the stain of earth,
    Join in fearful revelry.

    Sailor, waken, death is near,
    Waken from deceitful sleep;
    Sailor, ere the dawn appear,
    Thou shalt slumber in the deep.

  3. The Captive Pirate

    by Caroline Sheridan Norton

    The captive pirate sat alone,
    Musing over triumphs gone,
    Gazing on the clear blue sky
    From his dungeon window high.
    Dreamingly he sate, and thought
    Of battles he had seen and fought;
    And fancy o'er him threw her spell.
    He deemed he had not bid farewell
    To the friends who loved him best:
    O'er the white wave's snowy crest
    Seems he now once more to sail,
    Borne by the triumphant gale:
    Cheerily the light bark bounds,
    In his ears the music sounds
    Of hoarsely mingling waves and voices,
    And his inmost soul rejoices!
    He gives the signal of command,
    He waves—he drops—the lifted hand!
    It was a sound of clashing steel—
    Why starts he thus? what doth he feel?

    The clanking of his iron chain
    Hath made him prisoner again!
    He groans, as memory round him brings
    The shades of half-forgotten things.
    His friends! his faithful friends!—a sigh
    Bursts from that bosom swelling high.
    His bark! his gallant bark!—a tear
    Darkens the eye that knew not fear.
    And another meaner name
    Must lead his men to death or fame!
    And another form must stand
    (Captain of his mourning band)
    On the deck he trod so well,
    While his bark o'er ocean's swell
    Is sailing far, far out at sea,
    Where he never more may be!
    Oh! to be away once more
    From the dark and loathsome shore!
    Oh! again the sound to hear
    Of his ship's crew's hearty cheer!
    Souls who by his side have stood,
    Careless of their ebbing blood,
    Wiped the death-dew from their brow,
    And feebly smiled their truth to show!
    Little does the Pirate deem
    Freedom now were but a dream;
    Little does the chieftain think
    That his lost companions drink
    Strugglingly by the salt sea wave,
    Once their home, and now their grave!
    And the bark from which they part,
    (While his sad and heavy heart
    Yearns to tread her gallant deck,)
    Helpless lies, a heaving wreck!—

    And little will they deem, who roam
    Hereafter in their floating home,
    While their sunlit sail is spread,
    That it gleams above the dead—
    That the faithless wave rolls on
    Calmly, as they were not gone,
    While its depths warm hearts doth cover,
    Whose beatings were untimely over!
    And little will they deem, who stand
    Safe upon the sea-girt land,
    That to the stranger all it gave
    Was—a prison and a grave!
    That the ruin'd fortress towers
    Number'd his despairing hours,
    And beneath their careless tread,
    Sleeps—the broken-hearted dead!

  4. I'm a Pirate

    by Annette Wynne

    I'm a pirate in the grass—
    Hear ye people as ye pass;
    I'm a pirate bad and bold,
    Taking dandelion gold—
    All my hands and ships can hold.

    I'm a pirate—how the sun
    Glitters on the gold I've won;
    I shall buy you house and land
    And a castle silver-grand
    With the gold within my hand.

  5. Pirate Story

    by Robert Louis Stevenson

    Three of us afloat in the meadow by the swing,
    Three of us aboard in the basket on the lea.
    Winds are in the air, they are blowing in the spring,
    And waves are on the meadow like the waves there are at sea.

    Where shall we adventure, to-day that we're afloat,
    Wary of the weather and steering by a star?
    Shall it be to Africa, a-steering of the boat,
    To Providence, or Babylon, or off to Malabar?

    Hi! but here's a squadron a-rowing on the sea—
    Cattle on the meadow a-charging with a roar!
    Quick, and we'll escape them, they're as mad as they can be,
    The wicket is the harbour and the garden is the shore.

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