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Then off there flung in smiling joy,
And held himself erect
You hardly could suspect
Scarce any blood came through)
Was all but shot in two.
"Well," cried he, "Emperor, by God's grace
We've got you Ratisbon!
And you'll be there anon
Where I, to heart's desire,
Soared up again like fire.
The chief's eye flashed; but presently
Softened itself, as sheathes
When her bruised eaglet breathes;
Touched to the quick, he said:
Smiling, the boy fell dead.
NOTES AND QUESTIONS For Biography see page 87.
Historical Note. Ratisbon, a walled city of Bavaria, was besieged in 1809 by Napoleon. The Bavarians made such a vigorous defense for five days that Napoleon's victory was no small achievement. The poem, based on this incident, shows the beauty of a devotion to duty that forgets self. It also shows the admiration of soldiers for such a leader as Napoleon.
Discussion. 1. Find lines that verify the statements made in the Introduction on page 95 about this poem. 2. What does the expression, “we French," tell you about the speaker? 3. Where was Napoleon at the time Ratisbon was “stormed”? 4. Describe in your own words the position in which he stood. 5. What were Napoleon's thoughts as he stood on the mound? 6. Why is his sentence not finished? 7. What would Napoleon think when he saw a horse galloping toward him? 8. At what was he surprised? 9. What lines make us feel his shock of horror? 10. What was the boy's message? 11. Had he reason for his "smiling joy"? 12. Why does the poet repeat the words, “The chief's eye flashed"? What did the flashing of the eye show? 13. What different thought caused his eye to soften? 14. To what does the poet compare the softening of Napoleon's eye? 15. Why does the thought of the eagle seem appropriate in connection with Napoleon? 16. Who is the hero of this story? 17. What thought gave him power to smile in spite of his terrible pain? 18. Read the lines from Tennyson on page 93. Why are they especially fitting to introduce a group of selections that includes many stories of heroic adventure? 19. Find in the Glossary the meaning of: prone; oppressive; flag-bird; van.
Suggestions for Theme Topics. (Two-Minute Talks.) 1. A true war incident, preferably of the World War. 2. A story illustrating devotion to a leader and a
3. A description of Napoleon's personal appearance.
A BALLAD OF JOHN SILVER
We were schooner-rigged and rakish, with a long and lissome
hull, And we flew the pretty colors of the cross-bones and the skull; We'd a big black Jolly Roger flapping grimly at the fore, And we sailed the Spanish Water in the happy days of yore.
5 We'd a long brass gun amidship, like a well-conducted ship;
We had each a brace of pistols and a cutlass at the hip;
Then the dead men fouled the scuppers, and the wounded filled
the chains, And the paint-work all was spatter-dashed with other people's
brains; She was boarded, she was looted, she was scuttled till she sank, And the pale survivors left us by the medium of the plank.
5 Oh! then it was (while standing by the taffrail on the poop) We could hear the drowning folk lament the absent chicken
coop; Then, having washed the blood away, we'd little else to do Than to dance a quiet hornpipe as the old salts taught us to.
Oh! the fiddle on the fo'c's'le, and the slapping naked soles, 10 And the genial “Down the middle, Jake, and curtsey when she
rolls!” With the silver seas around us and the pale moon overhead, And the lookout not a-looking and his pipe-bowl glowing red.
Ah! the pig-tailed, quidding pirates and the pretty pranks we
played All have since been put a stop to by the naughty Board of Trade; 15 The schooners and the merry crews are laid away to rest,
A little south the sunset in the Islands of the Blest.
NOTES AND QUESTIONS
Biography. John Masefield (1875- ) is an English poet. At an early age he took to sea and for several years was a sailor. This experience furnished the basis for Salt-Water Ballads and a collection of short sea-tales. During the World War Masefield made a study for the English government of the campaign on the Gallipoli Peninsula, having taken part in the engagement there, and served in France in Red Cross work. In 1916 the poet lectured in America, arousing great interest in his poetry.
Discussion. 1. To whom does “We” refer? 2. What do the skull and cross-bones signify? 3. What was the black Jolly Roger? 4. What body of water was known as the Spanish Water, or Spanish Main? 5. How was the ship armored? 6. How were the sailors armed? For what purpose ? 7. What did they do to the merchant ships? What did they do to the crews? 8. How did the pirates amuse themselves? 9. Mention several modern inventions which have forced the pirate to give up his business. 10. The character John Silver is found in the greatest of pirate stories, Treasure Island; have you read the book? 11. Find in the Glossary the meaning of: lissome; brace; aboard; scuttled; salts.
Phrases for Study
fouled the scuppers, 143, 1 filled the chains, 143, 1
medium of the plank, 143,
4 Board of Trade, 143, 14
Class Reading. Bring to class and read “The Tarry Buccaneer,” Masefield (in Salt-Water Ballads).
Suggested Theme Topic. How the American Navy put an end to the Tripolitan piracy.
*From Rhymes of a Red Cross Man, by Robert W. Service; published by
; Barse and Hopkins.
Nurse won't give me a glass,
Turn away in distress . 5 Mirror enough, I guess.
I'm gay! You bet I am gay;
The darndest picture of woe,
So ravaged and raw and red,
What has happened since then,
The most despairing of men?
With the shrapnel wound on his head, 20 Has a sister; she came today
To sit a while by his bed.
Then sudden, a joyous cry; 25 The tripping of little feet;
The softest, tenderest sigh;
Fresh as the morning dews: 30 “C'est toi, c'est toi, Marcel!
Mon frère, comme je suis heureuse!”
So over the blanket's rim