Schiller: “The Invincible Armada”





She comes, she comes—the burden of the deeps!

Beneath her wails the universal sea!

With clanking chains and a new god, she sweeps,

And with a thousand thunders, unto thee!

The ocean-castles and the floating hosts—

Ne’er on their like looked the wild water!—Well

May man the monster name “Invincible.”

O’er shuddering waves she gathers to thy coasts!

The horror that she spreads can claim

Just title to her haughty name.

The trembling Neptune quails

Under the silent and majestic forms;

The doom of worlds in those dark sails;—

Near and more near they sweep! and slumber all the storms!


Before thee, the array,

Blest island, empress of the sea!

The sea-born squadrons threaten thee,

And thy great heart, Britannia!

Woe to thy people, of their freedom proud—

She rests, a thunder heavy in its cloud!

Who, to thy hand the orb and sceptre gave,

That thou should’st be the sovereign of the nations?

To tyrant kings thou wert thyself the slave,

Till freedom dug from law its deep foundations;

The mighty Chart the citizens made kings,

And kings to citizens sublimely bowed!

And thou thyself, upon thy realm of water,

Hast thou not rendered millions up to slaughter,

When thy ships brought upon their sailing wings

The sceptre—and the shroud?

What should’st thou thank?—Blush, earth, to hear and feel

What should’st thou thank?—Thy genius and thy steel!

Behold the hidden and the giant fires!

Behold thy glory trembling to its fall!

Thy coming doom the round earth shall appal,

And all the hearts of freemen beat for thee,

And all free souls their fate in thine foresee—

Theirs is thy glory’s fall!


One look below the Almighty gave,

Where streamed the lion-flags of thy proud foe;

And near and wider yawned the horrent grave.

“And who,” saith He, “shall lay mine England low—

The stem that blooms with hero-deeds—

The rock when man from wrong a refuge needs—

The stronghold where the tyrant comes in vain?

Who shall bid England vanish from the main?

Ne’er be this only Eden freedom knew,

Man’s stout defence from power, to fate consigned.”

God the Almighty blew,

And the Armada went to every wind!