Sir Henry John Newbolt (1862-1938)

Henry John Newbolt was born in Baldwin Street, Bradley in the Parish of Sedgley. His father was vicar of St. Mary's Church, Bilston, but died when Henry was four years old. The family then moved to Walsall where Mrs. Newbolt's parents lived.

At the age of ten, Henry was sent to a boarding school in Lincolnshire and from there won a scholarship to Clifton College, Bristol, recalled in his Clifton chapel and other school poems (1908). Following Oxford, Corpus Christi College, he began a legal career, practising at the Chancery Bar from 1887-1889. Following his marriage he moved increasingly in literary circles and counted Mary Coleridge and Robert Bridges among his friends.

He was knighted in 1915 and awarded the Companion of Honour in 1922.

Henry Newbolt is probably best remembered for his sea songs, Admirals All (1897) which was an immediate success on publication, selling over twenty thousand copies in the first year. It contains Drake's drum (dated 5th December 1895) which is typical of his patriotic style, often with naval and English West Country settings.

His first novel to be published was Taken from the Enemy (1892), followed by Mordred; a tragedy (1895). He also wrote short stories and a naval history.

Drake's Drum

DRAKE he's in his hammock an' a thousand miles away,
(Capten, art tha sleepin' there below?)
Slung atween the round shot in Nombre Dios Bay,
An' dreamin' arl the time O' Plymouth Hoe.
Yarnder lumes the Island, yarnder lie the ships,
Wi' sailor lads a-dancing' heel-an'-toe,
An' the shore-lights flashin', an' the night-tide dashin',
He see et arl so plainly as he saw et long ago.

Drake he was a Devon man, an' ruled the Devon seas,
(Capten, art tha' sleepin' there below?)
Roving' tho' his death fell, he went wi' heart at ease,
A' dreamin' arl the time o' Plymouth Hoe.
"Take my drum to England, hang et by the shore,
Strike et when your powder's runnin' low;
If the Dons sight Devon, I'll quit the port o' Heaven,
An' drum them up the Channel as we drumm'd them long ago."

Drake he's in his hammock till the great Armadas come,
(Capten, art tha sleepin' there below?)
Slung atween the round shot, listenin' for the drum,
An' dreamin arl the time o' Plymouth Hoe.
Call him on the deep sea, call him up the Sound,
Call him when ye sail to meet the foe;
Where the old trade's plyin' an' the old flag flyin'
They shall find him ware and wakin', as they found him long ago!


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