A Cinque Port

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  Below the down the stranded town
  What may betide forlornly waits,
  With memories of smoky skies,
  When Gallic navies crossed the straits;
  When waves with fire and blood grew bright,
  And cannon thundered through the night.

  With swinging stride the rhythmic tide
  Bore to the harbour barque and sloop;
  Across the bar the ship of war,
  In castled stern and lanterned poop,
  Came up with conquests on her lee,
  The stately mistress of the sea.

  Where argosies have wooed the breeze,
  The simple sheep are feeding now;
  And near and far across the bar
  The ploughman whistles at the plough;
  Where once the long waves washed the shore,
  Larks from their lowly lodgings soar.

  Below the down the stranded town
  Hears far away the rollers beat;
  About the wall the seabirds call;
  The salt wind murmurs through the street;
  Forlorn the sea's forsaken bride
  Awaits the end that shall betide.

© John Davidson