River Plate Action, 13 December 1939
In homage to all who served in H.M.S.s Ajax, Achilles, Exeter.
"They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters. These see the works of the Lord."
Psalm cvii. 23, 24.
WHEN Evil usurps the dominion and issues its ruthless commands
That none other gods shall be worshipped, save only the work of men's hands,
There rise, like the Image of Dura, grim idols which all must adore
Or enter a fiery furnace, ten thousand times worse than of yore!
'Twas thus from the Altar of Power, the shrine of ephemeral Fame,
Created and sponsored by Science, the miniature battleship came,
Her secrets compact in the slogan declaimed by the sycophant throng:
"Too strong to be fought by the fleetest, too swift to be caught by the strong!"
By stealth going forth on her mission, avoiding the curious eye,
She harried her prey on the seaways where leisurely argosies ply,
Her work, of men's hands, seemed to prosper, outwitting the Damocles sword,
Till she met with the Captains Courageous, whose hearts are the works of the
"Who giveth the heart understanding?"—to which of the mechanized gods
May we turn for the vision and courage that faces impossible odds?
For the wit to take instant decision? for the will and the power to resist?
Revealing the secret of manhood which prophets of Science have missed.
By the bank of the river in Eden, or ever there drew to its close
The sixth of the days of creation, the first of the Captains arose,
Endowed with a Royal dominion, a Regent on earth, set apart,
The breath of the Lord in his nostrils, the image of God in his heart.
Yet bartered his birthright for Knowledge, and so of dominion bereft,
He fell, but in infinite mercy, a spark of that image is left,
Man's heart to inspire and rekindle, when, tuned to a perfect accord,
The Captains Courageous bear witness, once more, to the works of the Lord.
"By faith winning strength out of weakness; time fails me the stories to tell
Of Gideon and Barak and Samson, of Jephthah and David as well,"
But whether Goliath or Dagon, when Evil incarnate defies,
Awaked to their latent dominion, the Captains Courageous arise!
As it was in the days of their fathers, by faith waxing valiant in fight,
Once more is the miracle granted, and the mystical spark is alight!
In the hearts of the Heroes of Homer and the Godchild of Exeter-Town
It brightens, enlightens and steadies, till—stricken—Goliath goes down!
* * *
There's a wreck at the mouth of a river, that once was the pride of her land,
That men passing by may consider—observing the works of their hand
Aforetime so proud and so mighty—what succour can Science afford
When faced by the Captains Courageous, whose hearts are the works of the