The "Seabolt's" Volunteers
Henry Lawson, 1889
They towed the Seabolt down the stream,
And through the harbour's mouth;
She spread her wings and sailed away
To seek the sunny South.
But, ah! she met with storm on storm
Ere half her course had run;
And all her masts were torn away,
And all her boats save one.
The good old ship had settled far
Beneath her cargo line,
Her riven sides were drinking deep
The draughts of ocean brine.
There gathered round the only boat
The women pale with fear,
And trembling little ones, who clung
To those who held them dear.
Then spoke the captain, brave and true,
His voice rose o'er the roar;
"The boat will save us all but five,
She cannot float with more!"
And backward from the side he stepped
(He had been born at sea)
"Now who will seek in ocean's depths
A sailor's grave with me?"
Then up there stepped a merchant stout,
His face was brown and tan:
"I'll volunteer to stay on board,
For I'm an Englishman!"
Then spoke a gallant gentleman,
A lover of romance:
"Remain I for the ladies' sake,
For I'm a son of France!"
And next there spoke a Highlander:
"Go search the wide world round,
You'll find no spot where on the earth
A Scotsman is not found!"
And then there spoke a lad to whom
Killarney's lakes were dear:
"It won't be said that Ireland found
No place of honour here!"
The boat pushed from the vessel's side
Amid the ringing cheers;
And now beneath Old Ocean sleep
The Seabolt's volunteers.