And the green blood of the Dryad is the sap of acorn-bells,
Not death, but higher life, befalls the Nymphs of the oak-trees
That are squared and shaped, and set to frame the .ships that rule the
Their unseen wings for shelter of Louise's gracious head,
As she faced the nipping March wind, like a daughter of the sea,
To christen the last war-ship that from Deptford launched will be.
The bows, slow creeping streamwards, as the dog-shores are struckdown:
Times change and war-ships with them: oak yields to iron's sway:
There are wider slips and statelier sheds, and broader quays elsewhere,
And Wisdom says "concentrate," and Thrift says "save and spare."
Where muddy banks are eat away by a foul stream's festering flow:
Where low Vice haunts and flaunts, and flares, fed full on sailors' gains,
And threatening them with surer wreck than all lee-shores or mains.
Was once the Deptford, where, in pride. The Great Harry wont to lie;
Whore, lusty King to lordly ship, from his Greenwich palace near,
Bluff King Hal among his shipwrights showed broad breast and face
Lamb and Lion,—monarch's majesty, enhancing woman's charm—
To mark, well-pleased, how in his yard the work sped swift along,
From fair keel to tall top-side of swift pink and carrack strong.
Glassing in its bright bosom, brave attire, and banners' gleam,
When, fene'd in tower of jewelled ruff and tun of pearled robe,
Came good Queen Bess to welcome Captain Drake from round the
Fragrant with spices of New Spain, rich with heap'd spoils of Ind,
As to bold Queen bold Buccaneer knelt on his own deck-board
Plain Captain Drake, and rose again Sir Francis from her sword.
Came a burly, bull-necked Muscovite, for labour and disport;
Sturdy swinker, lusty drinker; king with king, and tar with tar,
The Northern Demiurgus, Russ Prometheus, Peter Tzar.
But none more rich in memories. Old Deptford yard, than thou.
It was well done and worthily of a Princess fair and sweet,
To christen the last war-babe, born of thee into our fleet.
Or mar the glorious memories that spring from Deptford stones:
May she bear her worthy England, and the white hand that but now
Has dashed the wine of baptism upon her shapely bow!