The Ballad of English John, the Buccaneer

I didn't think that I'd be caught,
But, midway in the fight,
A score of Spaniards bore me down
And covered me from sight, —
Then, on my feet, I found my arms
Drawn backward, bound and tight.

They dragged me down below in chains,
They feared to set me free;
I lay there in the drip and slime
And listened to the sea;
They gave me bread I couldn't eat,
And rats ran over me.

I dreamed, to wake — and dream again
Of wild, free ocean ways, —
My life grew big before me like
A spark that makes a blaze. . . .
We seemed to sail for endless nights
And weary, endless days.

At last, " get up, you Englishman, "
I heard ... a torch flared red. . . .
One booted at my rattling ribs,
One bashed me in the head. . . .
" My friends, I hope we meet in hell, "
Were all the words I said.

They rode me inland to Madrid
A-rolling in a cart;
They threw me out and broke my arm
That couldn't break my heart, —
And I sat up and cursed all Spain
In bower and hall and mart.

They dragged me to a scaffold, next;
Though ended now my play,
Yet, in my final scene of life,
I stood up in the day:
I kicked the hangman, laughed at death, —
Which made the ladies gay:

The ladies whispered, " it's a shame, "
(Each fluttering her fan)
" Aye, it's a shame his life must fall
Beneath the hangman's ban! "
And each one thought within her heart
I was a proper man.
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