There’s Something at the Yard-Arm [poem by E. J. Brady]

[Editor: This poem by E. J. Brady was published in The Earthen Floor (1902).]

XXII.

There’s Something at the Yard-Arm.

There’s something at the yard-arm
That’s swinging to and fro;
There’s something at the yard-arm,
The drums are beating slow.
They swung it to the yard-arm
Alive a while ago;
They hung it to the yard-arm
For all the fleet to know.

What is it rocks so gently,
Tarpaulin, can you see?
What is it swings so slowly
Above the sunlit sea?
A messmate’s hanging yonder
Upon his gallows-tree,
Oh, high it’s hanging yonder —
The corpse of Mutiny.

There’s something at the yard-arm
That dips to every roll,
With muffled drums a-beating
Instead of bells to toll.
There’s something at the yard-arm
That answers every roll;
The Admiral is watching,
Black anger in his soul.

The Provost Marshal’s wiping
The sweat from oil his face;
The man beside the yard-rope
He staggers in his place;
The Captain’s walking hurried
And stepping out of pace;
The Chaplain by the cat-head
Is moving God for grace.

What is it in the hammock,
Tarpaulin, can you see?
What is it in the hammock
That lifts so heavily?
A dead man’s in his hammock,
And evermore to be,
Between the round shot going
To sleep beneath the sea.

There’s something at the yard-arm
That’s hanging high and white;
The middle watch that saw it
Is cursing in affright!
There’s something at the yard-arm
A-swinging all the night;
There’s something at the yard-arm
God send the morning light!



Source:
E. J. Brady, The Earthen Floor, Grafton (N.S.W.): Grip Newspaper Co., 1902

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