Her hammocks tucked into her netting,
Her battle flags hung from her gaff,
Her great dolphin‑striker upflinging
The spindrift like clouds of white chaff,
A swig all around from the grog tub,
A cutlass at each sailor's hand,
Marines in the tops with their muskets,
Her decks cleared and ghostly with sand,
A breeze blowing out of the northwest,
The day and the sea calmly fair,
Bore down on John Bull's Guerriere.
As Hull in his snowy white breeches
Went sauntering forward and aft,
The men at the forty‑four long guns,
All stripped to their waists, winked and laughed;
They shattered the skies with their yell;
"Look to your guns!"
"We're blowing that King's ship to hell!"
Then fiercely they leaned to their primings,
And grimly they aimed, tensely still,
Until Captain Hull shouted, "Fire!
Remember you're shooting to kill!"
The carronades rumbled like thunder,
The Guerriere gave lead for lead,
But, as the dense pall of smoke lifted,
Her scuppers with blood running red,
She listed and started to settle,
Her rigging crashed over her side,
And carried her dead and her dying
Into the embrace of the tide;
She reeled, while the stout Constitution,
Unscathed, raked her decks with hot scorn,
And when Dacres hauled down his colors,
Another world power was born.
‑‑ Edgar Daniel Kramer
The Captainís Clerk