The frigate flies before the wind,
Her every fibre straining.
The quarry can't escape them now,
In what sea room's remaining.
"Put one round close across her bow!
The boarding party ready now!
She'll strike her colours soon, I vow!
Or blood, her decks be staining!"
To starboard; land, and land ahead.
To port; the frigate, gaining!
They curse the hand of destiny,
And know their fortunes waning.
The waters shift from blue to green
As heaven lights the depths unseen.
The surf roars out its endless paean
To join the north wind's keening.
A shadow sweeps beneath her keel,
The coral pink and bright;
And rips apart her stout oak heart
And chills her crew with fright.
The waves rush in to seal their fate,
The women and the children wait.
The lamps burn and the slow bell tolls,
Long into the night.